Digitized drawing by Crystal Bridges.

That great big Bentonville cheese factory that brothers and Walmart heirs Tom and Stueart Walton are turning into a Mass MoCA-style contemporary art facility, which has been referred to as “the plant” by the folks working on the project, now has a real name: It will be called the Momentary, sister institution Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced today.


Lieven Bertels of Amsterdam, a musicologist and the former CEO and cultural director of the Leeuwarden-Frisian 2018 European Capital of Culture, will be director of the Momentary and will start work in Bentonville in September, though the opening of the museum is at least three years off. The CBMAA press release said Bertels “will be responsible for all activities related to the Momentary, including planning and development for the facility as well as artistic direction and day-to-day operations.”

So what is a European Capital of Culture? you ask. Here’s the answer, from the website, which describes the inventive experience of all the arts that the Frisians have come up with:


“Cultural Capital of Europe is an international cultural project and one of Europe’s most ambitious events. It works like this: each year, two countries from the European Union hold a national competition. One city in these countries is eventually designated as Cultural Capital of Europe for a year. For 2018, Leeuwarden is one of the two European cities and we are proud of that! But it’s not just a Frisian celebration; Leeuwarden-Friesland Cultural Capital of Europe 2018 is a national Dutch event with as epicentre Leeuwarden and the province of Friesland.

The European jury in 2013 was really won over by the ideas in our bid book (presentation book). According to the European jury, the Frisian mienskip (community) was the reason that Leeuwarden-Friesland was chosen as Cultural Capital of Europe in 2018. The unique involvement of Frisians with their immediate surroundings, family, neighbours, associations and corps made a big impression.

The idea of having the events actually leave something long-lasting behind especially excited the jury members. We think that the cultural initiatives should mean something. That they give a fresh boost to our way of thinking and living. This could be done in different ways, for example, in the area of clean drinking water, the multicultural society, sustainable innovation and fighting poverty. We want to grab this opportunity with both hands because the Netherlands won’t be eligible again to nominate a Cultural Capital until 2033.

That should give you some idea of the kind of arts environment Director Bertels comes from. I expect great things from the Momentary, which will include galleries, studio space, a black box theater, an amphitheater, a studio kitchen, cafe, bar and indoor and outdoor public spaces; the Times wrote about project last year.

The Wheeler Kearns architectural firm in Chicago will oversee the adaptation of the building, formerly a Kraft cheese plant.