Bentonville and the Walton family will give art in Arkansas another tremendous boost when Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, which celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, will open a 100,000-square-foot expansion to the 200,000 square-foot-facility. Opening is set for 2024. The move will further enhance Crystal Bridges’ status in the museum world and bring more visitors to Northwest Arkansas.
The expansion follows the opening in 2020 of the Momentary, a contemporary art museum guided by Tom, Olivia and Stueart Walton.
Architect Moshe Safdie, who designed Crystal Bridges, has also designed the addition, which will link to the original facility with a new bridge on the north part of the building. The addition will increase the current gallery space by more 65% to allow the museum to display more of its collection and show temporary exhibitions and add classrooms, maker spaces, a new cafe and indoor-outdoor gathering places, including a new circular plaza. Construction should start next year.
The museum has already made a significant change to its entry by moving Louise Bourgeois’ sculpture “Maman” from the courtyard to the grounds, where it can be better appreciated, and adding a glass roof over the formerly open area. Walker Landing, the plaza between the restaurant and the north bridge, will also be shaded, and a water feature will be incorporated into the design.
In the press release, museum founder Alice Walton said it was time to expand given the number of visitors. “It’s wonderful to see how our community, our region and travelers to Bentonville from across the nation and around the world have embraced Crystal Bridges and enjoyed the experience of being surrounded by art, nestled in nature, and immersed in Moshe Safdie’s architecture.” The museum is located on 120 wooded acres just north of the town square.
The museum is also renovating its temporary exhibition space, which was originally designed for offices but was repurposed as the need for more gallery space became apparent previous to the Nov. 11, 2011, opening.
Crystal Bridges has doubled its holdings from around 1,500 works of art in 2011 to 3,000 today, the announcement said, and 5 million visitors have been drawn to the museum by more than 60 exhibitions.