The defunct Kraft Food facility that Crystal Bridges is working to convert into a visual and performing arts space.

Crystal Bridges Names Lieven Bertels as Director of Its New Arts Venue

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Arkansas announced today that Lieven Bertels has been appointed the director of an innovative new arts venue it’s developing in downtown Bentonville. As previously reported, the institution plans to transform a decommissioned Kraft Foods plant into a visual and performing arts center. Bertels is the former CEO and director of Leeuwarden-Fryslân 2018 European Capital of Culture, a year-long festival in the Netherlands.

“We are thrilled to welcome Lieven to Northwest Arkansas,” said Rod Bigelow, the executive director and chief diversity and inclusion officer of Crystal Bridges. “Along with international arts experience and a history of successful leadership, he brings a strong background in performance art and fresh ideas about ways to expand the cultural impact of the arts in our region and beyond. His work in Leeuwarden, at Sydney Festival and in Bruges demonstrate his ability to advance projects that are culturally transformative.”

The venue has been temporarily named the Momentary, which according to the Austin-based brand consultancy and design studio FÖDA “speaks to the fleeting quality found in music, performance, food, exhibitions, etc.” It was also derived from the Latin roots of the word “contemporary.”

While the Momentary is currently in the design phase, construction is expected to begin in 2018. Wheeler Kearns Architects, based in Chicago, is overseeing the project. The firm plans on maintaining the building’s industrial integrity while converting it into a flexible space that include galleries, studio space, a black box theater, an amphiteather, a kitchen, bar, and community gathering areas.

The project will be supported by the Walton Family Foundation as part of its mission to improve the quality of life in northwest Arkansas. The development of the Momentary is a continuation of the family’s commitment to make art accessible it the Arkansas and Mississippi Delta region, as evidenced by another recent major gift to the University of Arkansas.
“Art is transforming lives in Northwest Arkansas by opening our minds to new ideas and cultural experiences that bring people together,” said Tom Walton, chair of the Walton Family Foundation’s Home Region Program. “The Momentary will create a space that inspires not just artists, but the entire community as well.”