New Crystal Bridges venue announces name, director, opening date

Rendering of the loading dock area of the new ‘Momentary’ contemporary art gallery.

Courtesy image

There was some big news announced today on the new contemporary art museum planned at the site of the former Kraft Foods factory in Downtown Bentonville.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art officials today announced the new visual and performing arts facility will be called The Momentary, and will be led by Lieven Bertels, a Belgium native with extensive experience running a host of international arts festivals in Europe and Australia.

“We are thrilled to welcome Lieven to Northwest Arkansas,” said Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges Executive Director & Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer. “Along with international arts experience and a history of successful leadership, he brings a strong background in performance art and fresh ideas about ways to expand the cultural impact of the arts in our region and beyond.”

Bertels says he believes the Momentary has the potential to become an international destination for those interested in contemporary art.

Rendering showing the south side of the new Momentary facility showing a courtyard looking woard the new glass entryway


“The Momentary will push boundaries of creativity, blur urban and rural lines, and provide access to arts-based experiences in a comfortable and well-designed social space,” he said. “This is a truly exciting project not just for the region but for arts communities at large.”

Austin, Texas based brand consultancy FÖDA came up with the name for the facility.

“Dismantle the word ‘contemporary’ to its Latin roots and you get with or thoroughly and lasting or serving for a time only,” said Jett Butler, creative direcor for the agency. “The word momentary speaks to that same fleeting quality found in music, in performance, food, exhibitions, etc. It’s a word that is ephemeral enough to grow into—to evolve with the art and the programming—and yet The Momentary is resonant, it signals confidence in an atypical art program.”

The new facility is currently in the design development phase, with site work scheduled to begin in early 2018.

East-facing storefront opens the Momentary up to the large green space. Open courtyard spaces surround the building


Chicago-based architecture firm Wheeler Kearns Architects is overseeing the design of the project.

Once it’s complete, the new facility will include galleries, studio space for artists, a small black box theater, an amphitheater, studio kitchen, café, bar, along with indoor and outdoor community gathering areas.

The project is being supported by the Walton Family Foundation.

Bertels plans to join Crystal Bridges as director of the new project in September. He will be responsible for all activities related to The Momentary, including planning and development for the facility as well as artistic and day to day operations. Prior to joining the museum, Bertels was CEO and cultural director of Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 European Capital of Culture, a year-long festival in the Netherlands focusing on the arts in a rural context. Before that, he led the Sydney Festival in Australia, and served on the board of the International society for the Performing Arts in New York.

If all goes well, the new facility will open sometime in early 2020.

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