Photography: Mike Sinclair

A former cheese factory in Arkansas is set to become a contemporary arts space for the Crystal Bridges Museum.

Designed by Wheeler Kearns Architects, the new 63,000 sq ft venue in the state’s downtown Bentonville will be a hub for film, music and theatre as well as exhibitions and installations.

According to Dan Wheeler, founding principal of Wheeler Kearns Architects, the project is intended to ‘embed and engage American artists within a community’.

Crystal Bridges Museum new space
Photography: Mike Sinclair

The idea of a new space stems from the Crystal Bridges Museum’s recent ‘State of the Art’ exhibition, for which curators met with 1,000 artists across the country in a survey of contemporary American art.

‘Art is being created all across America, every day, and “State of the Art” was our call to action to pay attention,’ said Rod Bigelow, executive director of the museum. ‘While the museum features five centuries of American art, this new space will focus on today’s arts, artists, and the innovations of our time.’

The fresh counterpart will be 1.5 miles away from the existing Crystal Bridges Museum and will be one of the largest museum openings in America’s central states, away from the East and West Coasts.

Crystal Bridges Museum new space
Photography: Mike Sinclair

Its programme will be organised in collaboration with MASS MoCA (Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art).

The Crystal Bridges Museum, which opened in 2011, is the brainchild of Walmart heiress Alice Walton. Her family’s foundation is financially backing the transformation of the old cheese factory and the new space is expected to open in 2018.

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