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story.lead_photo.caption Olivia and Tom Walton represented the Walton Foundation at Thursday’s news conference in Bentonville. Olivia Walton said the Momentary “started with a vision to showcase and celebrate the art and music of our times.” - Photo by Charlie Kaijo

BENTONVILLE -- Walmart is donating $2 million to the Momentary, the art and performance venue being developed by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, museum officials announced at a news conference Thursday.

The money will allow the Momentary to offer free general admission, as well as help pay for major art exhibitions, live performances, festivals and other events. The venue will be housed in the former Kraft Foods plant near the 8th Street Market in central Bentonville.

Lieven Bertels, the Momentary's director, said the facility is on schedule to open in early 2020. A preview concert on the Momentary campus is planned for next fall, he said.

Differentiating the Momentary from its "mothership," Crystal Bridges, Bertels said, "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."

Bertels described the site's history as an apple orchard, and before that, part of the Osage tribe's hunting grounds, before introducing the first artist to be involved with the Momentary. Addie Roanhorse, a mixed-media artist and member of the Osage Nation in eastern Oklahoma, created design elements for the building she said were inspired by handwoven patterns resembling arrowheads seen in traditional Osage attire.

A short video screened at the news conference, held at The Holler in the 8th Street Market, provided a look at the work involved in transforming the 63,000-square-foot Kraft plant into a contemporary arts venue replete with galleries and studios, a black-box theater, a multi-use performance space, kitchen, cafe, bar, and indoor and outdoor common areas. Demolition and site work are complete and construction has begun with Wheeler Kearns Architects of Chicago overseeing the project.

Museum Director Rod Bigelow introduced Tom and Olivia Walton of the Walton Family Foundation as the "visionaries" behind the Momentary. Olivia Walton said the Momentary "started with a vision to showcase and celebrate the art and music of our times, and to blur the boundaries between the visual arts and performing arts."

Tom Walton, a nephew of Crystal Bridges' founder and Walmart heiress Alice Walton, expressed the foundation's commitment to supporting the project "as a way to enhance the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas."

Speaking about the entire market district at Southeast Eighth and J streets, Tom Walton said it was always envisioned along with the Momentary as one large project. Noting the presence of Brightwater culinary school -- part of Northwest Arkansas Community College -- along with food trucks and other startup businesses, he said that with "the collision of culinary arts and the food and the energy here, it's something that's going to be really special."

Crystal Bridges announced its plans to develop the Momentary in 2015.

Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Diane Carroll (from left), Olivia Walton and Sandy Edwards share a laugh Thursday at the Holler in Bentonville.

NW News on 09/14/2018

Print Headline: Walmart gives $2 million to back Momentary

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