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story.lead_photo.caption A 14-foot tall steel and aluminum mockingbird sculpture called The Incredible Electric Technicolor Mockingbird overlooks Thursday Oct. 8. 2020 the site of an outdoor play space and new parking deck that is planned for an area near the Amazeum and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. Visit nwaonline.com/201008Daily/ for more photos. (NWA Democrat-Gazette/J.T.WAMPLER)

BENTONVILLE -- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced Thursday it will be collaborating on an upcoming development project with the Scott Family Amazeum.

A play area called Convergence and a six-story parking deck with performance space will be built on 4 acres on the southeast side of Crystal Bridges' 120-acre campus and the adjoining western edge of the Amazeum's property, according to venue representatives.

"We've always been looking for ways to collaborate," said Paul Stolt, Amazeum marketing manager. "It's rare to have two really nationally recognized cultural institutions so close to each other."

The public space will be free to access and will have interactive elements and water features mimicking the Ozark landscape, according to the release.

"It's new and exciting, and it also allows us to show off the natural landscape and really play up the uniqueness of the Ozarks," said Beth Bobbitt, Crystal Bridges public relations director.

The area will feature opportunities for educational art and science programming, she said.

"Crystal Bridges is really good at art, and the Amazeum is really good at science," Bobbitt said. "We're just excited for the opportunity to work with the Amazeum in this unique way and have this offering that builds on both institutions' expertise."

The design is being paid for by the Walton Family Foundation's Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program, which promotes high levels of design for public buildings and spaces in the region, according to the release.

The grant to Crystal Bridges for the design is $382,037, said Luis Gonzalez, senior communications officer for the foundation's Home Region Program.

The parking deck will include 800 free parking spots and a proscenium with two levels of program and engagement space on its west side, according to the release. The parking deck will help meet the Amazeum's projected growth, Stolt said.

The Amazeum was projecting almost 280,000 guests this year prior to the pandemic, Stolt said.

"That is probably 40,000 or so more than we've had in years past," he said.

Crystal Bridges experienced its greatest number of visitors in 2019 with more than 700,000 guests, Bobbitt said. The museum historically fluctuates between 500,000 and 700,000 visitors annually.

Increased visitation to the Amazeum has caused parking to overflow into nearby parking lots, Stolt said.

"Having a way to create more parking in a very beautiful and artistic way is something we'd like to do," Stolt said.

The parking deck is being designed by Fayetteville-based Marlon Blackwell Architects, he said. The design is being completed by Philadelphia-based Studio Bryan Hanes, according to Stolt. Planning for the project began three years ago, Bobbitt said. Construction will begin in spring 2021 and is anticipated to be completed in the fall of 2022, according to the release.

photo
A concept rendering of Convergence presents ideas for the four-acre outdoor playscape collaboration between Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Scott Family Amazeum.
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Scott Family Amazeum, 1009 Museum Way in Bentonville, www.amazeum.org .

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 600 Museum Way in Bentonville, crystalbridges.org .

Source: NWA Democrat-Gazette

Mary Jordan can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @NWAMaryJ.

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