The Momentary, a new contemporary art space satellite to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, officially opened on February 22, 2020. Led by Chicago-based Wheeler Kearns Architects, the adaptive reuse project saw the 63,000-square-foot decommissioned cheese factory into a multidisciplinary space for visual, performing, and culinary artists.
The firm was tasked with envisioning the Momentary’s aim of creating a space offering a unique experience unlike a traditional museum. The focus was on designing a cultural hub with engaging indoor and outdoor areas that would expand the cultural experiences in Bentonville and bring artists from around the world to the region. The Momentary purposefully overlaps social, performance, and culinary activities with art spaces to champion contemporary art’s role in everyday life.
The Momentary is a new phase in the life of this site. Once a hunting ground for the Osage Nation, the land was turned into an orchard in the 1800s with a railway spur running through the north side of the property. Eagle Flour Mill occupied the site from 1913-1947, at which point it became a cheese processing factory for Kraft Foods until 2013. When approaching the transformation of this building for a new purpose, Wheeler Kearns Architects aimed to keep as much of the existing structure as possible. It deliberately differentiated its additions by using contemporary materials like steel and glass, an open and visible intervention that brings the old and new together in a diverse, but holistic, program.