The New York Times was delivered the scoop by the Walton family on their latest addition to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (and Bentonville) — a new contemporary art space in a former Kraft cheese factory on E Street downtown.
The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, which relied on the Times‘ reporting for this backyard news, offered a more straightforward beginning to the story this morning. The Times’ arts section lead it off with a more contextual approach:
In London, it was a hulking electric power station (now the Tate Modern). In North Adams, Mass., it was an electronics plant (whose buildings now house the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art). In Beacon, N.Y., it was a Nabisco cracker-box factory (now home to Dia:Beacon, the mecca of Minimalist and Conceptual art). And next in the march of postindustrial artification, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. — home to Walmart — has announced plans to transform a defunct Kraft cheese plant into a raw space for contemporary-art exhibitions, artists’ projects, music, theater and film.
The 63,000-square-foot space is intended to function somewhat in the way that MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens, serves as an edgier, more experimental affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art. It is expected to open in 2018, Crystal Bridges officials said, and the location, in downtown Bentonville, would not only provide a place to show more contemporary art but would also continue a transformation of the small city and the surrounding region into a cultural alternative to cities like New York and Los Angeles.
Tom Walton, 32, one of Sam’s grandsons and a force in Bentonville now through advocacy of bike trails, new restaurants and, not incidentally, looser liquor laws, is spokesman for the effort in the Times. He says this is part of an effort to make Bentonville “one of the hottest destinations in the country.”
A hundred billion dollars can help do that. The less said about some of the local political representation when attracting trendy young moderns to town, the better. Would but Tom Walton and sibs get to work on improving THAT local aesthetic.