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A rendering of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s expansion project. Photo: Safdie Architects.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Plans Major Expansion

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, has revealed plans to expand its campus by 50 percent, allowing for a more generous hang of its collection as well as space for cultural and educational programming and community events. Moshe Safdie, the original structure’s architect, will oversee the project, which will increase the institution’s space from 200,000 to nearly 300,000 square feet.

The original complex, completed in 2011, is an airy structure curved to echo the surrounding hillside and characterized by concrete walls, red-cedar bands, and a copper roof. The new addition is to comprise two new buildings studded with skylights and connected by a glass-walled bridge; the structures will house studios, galleries, classrooms, and event spaces, while a café will occupy the bridge. Additional plans are afoot for a circular outdoor plaza suitable for events and for community programming.

The project is expected to get underway in early 2022, with completion anticipated sometime in 2024. The institution, which will likely remain open during construction, is said to be working concurrently with Safdie Architects and Coen+Partners Landscape Architects to develop new walking paths, outdoor spaces, and art encounters on the surrounding grounds.

“It’s timely to enlarge our building and make sure more people can access these offerings,” said museum founder Alice Walton in a statement. Walton, heiress to the Walmart fortune and the richest woman in the United States, noted that “having Safdie Architects expand on its original Crystal Bridges design with this new addition will create a unified experience for enjoying art, nature, and architecture.”

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