In 2011, when Alice Walton opened a world-class museum in Northwest Arkansas, the art world was a bit perplexed. Now, nine years after the massive and monumental Crystal Bridges proudly carved out a spot for Bentonville on the nation’s cultural map, the museum is opening the Momentary, a satellite venue a mile and a half away dedicated to contemporary performing, visual, and culinary art, on February 22. “Crystal Bridges is traditional, where art gets hung on beautiful walls,” says Lieven Bertels, the Momentary’s director. “Bentonville needed that. But now, this is a place where everyone can walk in and treat it like a living room.”
Indeed, sofas, lunch tables, and work spaces are sprinkled throughout the indoor and outdoor areas, inviting visitors to stay awhile. Inside the sprawling former Kraft cheese plant, rotating exhibitions go on display alongside two theaters and three artist-in-residence studios, and the Tower bar overlooks an expansive outdoor green that connects the Momentary to the nearby 8th Street Market. The Momentary’s inaugural exhibition, State of the Art 2020, sent the curatorial team on the road to find dozens of groundbreaking artists such as Dallas-
based sculptor Frances Bagley and the South Korean–born, Atlanta-based painter Jiha Moon, who incorporates fabric and trinkets into her fantastical paintings.