Momentary opens to eager crowds

BENTONVILLE -- Northwest Arkansas' new contemporary art space opened its doors to press this morning before debuting to the public Saturday. The Momentary is open to members today and eager guests began teeming into the venue promptly at 10 a.m.

The Momentary is a 63,000-square-foot venue in a former Kraft Foods cheese plant in the market district of southeast Bentonville. The region has anxiously awaited its opening since Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, the Momentary's owner, announced its intentions for the land in 2016.

The nonprofit venue was inspired by the vision of Tom, Olivia and Steuart Walton, who welcomed founding funders at a preopening celebration Thursday night. Tom and Steuart Walton are grandchildren of Walmart founder Sam Walton.

The Walton Family Foundation is supporting the project to enhance the quality of life in the region by cultivating arts and cultural experiences providing opportunities for education, engagement and enjoyment, said Emily Neuman, Momentary public relations manager.

"We're very much wanting a place where people can come together and enjoy art and have it be part of their everyday life," Neuman said.

The campus includes multiple galleries, flexible performance spaces, an Onyx Coffee Lab location, a fast-casual restaurant (The Breakroom), a rooftop bar (Tower Bar), outdoor gathering spaces and an outdoor concert area under a canopy.

"As the building opens and brings more artists in, it will show us the potential of this space and what it can be," Lauren Haynes, curator of visual arts at the Momentary and curator of contemporary art at Crystal Bridges, told the press this morning. "We're hoping visitors will find something different every time they come back."

The Momentary introduces itself to the community this weekend through the inaugural TIME BEING festival. The event, today through Sunday, is a performance art festival to celebrate the opening while offering an idea of the kind of programming guests can expect from the venue year-round.

The festival includes dance, music and culinary and other performances, sometimes combined.

The venue was bustling with activity in the hour before opening to members as staff flitted here and there with equipment and prepared the culinary spaces for service. Performance group For You was even busy at work in the black box theater, Fermentation Hall, as they prepared for their piece "First Things First" -- to be performed at 11 a.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Sunday during the TIME BEING festival.

The Momentary is also hosting the first temporary exhibition to fill its halls: "State of the Art 2020." "State of the Art" assembles work from 61 artists across 48 states and is the followup to Crystal Bridges' 2014 exhibition of the same name. The exhibit endeavors to examine the current state of art by displaying works from present-day creators.

Haynes walked press through the gallery spaces, describing the significance of the multimedia works on display. The exhibition is spread across the Momentary and Crystal Bridges through May 24, encouraging visitors to think about what it means to view pieces in conversation across both spaces.

The Momentary is open Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.; closed Mondays. The Tower Bar is open Tuesday-Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to members only (no alcohol is served during these hours), and is open to the public ages 21 and over after 5 p.m.

All exhibitions at the Momentary will always be free, but during opening weekend, guests must reserve timed-entry tickets. Tickets will not be required for entry following opening weekend.

Some performances during the TIME BEING festival are ticketed and some are free. Find full information on these performances at


The Momentary

507 S.E. E St. in Bentonville



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