Walmart Provides $2M to Momentary; Venue's Admission Will be Free

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art earlier today announced a major financial donation to advance the Momentary, a new contemporary arts venue that’s scheduled to open in early 2020.

 Olivia Walton and Tom Walton talk about the Momentary, a Northwest Arkansas project being supported by the Walton Family Foundation to advance quality of life in the region.

Olivia Walton and Tom Walton talk about the Momentary, a Northwest Arkansas project being supported by the Walton Family Foundation to advance quality of life in the region.

The $2 million gift from Walmart will go toward access and innovation at the multi-disciplinary visual and performing arts space that’s being created in a former Kraft Foods cheese plant. The Walmart gift was among several updates provided regarding the Momentary project, including the unveiling of the Momentary’s logo and the plan to provide free general admission to all visitors to the new venue in Bentonville.

“Since Crystal Bridges opened in 2011, nearly 4 million visitors to the museum have experienced the power of art to transform lives,” said Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges executive director and chief diversity & inclusion officer.. “The Momentary will add new and complementary offerings, and extend the story of contemporary art right up to the moment.

“We are grateful to Walmart for their support to help bring artists, innovators, and the community together and to further position Northwest Arkansas as a unique arts and cultural destination.”

“As part of our commitment to enhance quality of life in Northwest Arkansas, Walmart is honored to provide this gift to the Momentary for access and innovation for our community and today’s working artists, both local and visiting,” said Dan Bartlett, executive vice president of corporate affairs for Walmart.

The access will be free admission; funds for innovation will go toward initiatives that align with the mission through festivals, major exhibitions, artist programs, culinary offerings, and more. 

Tom Walton and Olivia Walton of the Walton Family Foundation spoke at today’s press event about the foundation’s commitment to the project.

Olivia Walton talked about the desire to blur the boundaries between visual and performing arts as well as offering a venue that feels comfortable. Tom Walton said the foundation supports the project because it will enhance Northwest Arkansas’ quality of life.

“Our commitment to cultivating arts and cultural experiences provides more opportunities for education, engagement, and enjoyment in our region,” he said.

In 2016, Crystal Bridges announced plans to transform a 63,000 square-foot Kraft Foods plant into a multi-disciplinary space for visual, performing, and culinary arts, as well as an artist residency program. Chicago-based Wheeler Kearns Architects is overseeing the adaptive re-use project.

Design and site work is now complete, with the new construction phase is underway. Spaces are being transformed to include galleries, studio space for artists, a small black box theater, kitchen, cafe, rooftop bar, and flexible indoor gathering areas as well as an outdoor space for concerts, festivals, and community events. A YouTube video preview of the construction is available.

“The Momentary encourages an experimental approach with the flexibility and space for artists to engage with the community and each other in meaningful and unexpected ways,” said Lieven Bertels, director of the Momentary. “By preserving the industrial integrity of the architecture, we are embracing the history of the building.

“We’re also exploring our unique identity. Since, the mission of the Momentary is to champion contemporary art’s role in everyday life, our logo is based on the type of signage found in a factory setting and present all around us, while the iconic arrows in the logo come together to form the M in our name.”

Another way the Momentary is embracing the past and moving it into the future is through the work of Addie Roanhorse, a graphic designer, mixed media artist, and resident of the Osage Nation reservation in eastern Oklahoma.

Roanhorse has created design elements for the building that are inspired by traditional Osage attire and pay homage to the history of the land around the Momentary. The patterns are printed into the building’s entryway, loading dock, and elevator tower glass, and play a functional role in filtering light.

"I have great admiration and respect for Crystal Bridges and the Momentary and I am honored to have this opportunity to acknowledge my ancestral territory with a visual representation of Osage culture,” Roanhorse said.  “Inspired by traditional finger weave patterns, the designs woven in the past are identical patterns my generation continues to weave today."

Pictured at the top: Artist Addie Roanhorse, a resident of the Osage Nation reservation in eastern Oklahoma, has worked with the Momentary architects and will see her influence featured prominently at the new arts ventue in Bentonville. The Momentary opens in 2020.