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Decommissioned cheese factory becomes a contemporary art space

Art Galleries

Decommissioned cheese factory becomes a contemporary art space

Wheeler Kearns Architects designed the adaptive reuse project.

By David Malone, Associate Editor | March 2, 2020
The Momentary Exterior

All photos: Dero Sanford

The Momentary, a contemporary art space satellite to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., is a new multidisciplinary space for visual, performing, and culinary arts.

The Wheeler Kearns Architects-designed space took a 63,000-sf decommissioned cheese factory and turned it into a cultural hub with engaging indoor and outdoor areas. Dubbed The Momentary, the design overlaps social, performance, and culinary activities with art spaces to showcase contemporary art’s role in everyday life.


Gallery 1 at the Momentary


The Tower, which reaches a height of 70 feet, is the largest space in the program and allows for vertical circulation up through multiple pre-existing intermediate mezzanines, which will be used for visual arts, performance, and social events. At the top of The Tower is the Tower Bar with interiors designed by James Beard Finalists Jett Butler and Stephanie Leung of FÖDA in collaboration with Wheeler Kearns Architects. Tower Bar offers panoramic views and a floor skylight looking down to the museum below. The new addition’s exterior features glass panels that pay homage to the site’s history as a hunting ground for the Osage Nation. 


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The Tower also features the entrance to The Container, a glass-enclosed space for events. Meanwhile, The Galleries are located in the oldest part of the original building and spans over 24,000 sf. Currently, The Galleries features The Momentary’s inaugural visual arts exhibition.


Lobby Gallery at the Momentary


The Momentary also includes:

– The RØDE House, a multidisciplinary performance space in the old Milk Intake Room which seats upwards of 350 people. The space can either be closed or partially open-air and includes an adjustable floor system fabricated by Serapid that allows the room to be reconfigured

– Fermentation Hall, a black box theater located in the old Fermentation Room

– Three dedicated Artist-in-Residence studios designed to accommodate 2D, 3D, and digital artists

– The Breakroom, a social space off the galleries in the former employee lunch room


The Breakroom at the Momentary


Outdoor space is also incorporated in the design. In collaboration with the Tulsa-based firm Howell Vancuren Landscape Architects, the landscaping includes sculptures, courtyards like the Arvest Bank Courtyard, and the 42,000-sf Momentary Green. On the east side of the Green, a canopy that is 50 feet tall and spans 13,000 square feet has been relocated from Sydney, Australia. It is a focal point for outdoor single and multi-day music festivals and also a place of shade for the public.

The project officially opened on Feb. 22, 2020.


The mezzanines at the Momentary

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