Arkansas Arts Center officials have secured $118 million for expansion and renovation of the downtown Little Rock museum, officials said at a ceremony Wednesday evening to kick off the fundraising campaign's "public phase."
The sum is just $10 million shy of the $128 million campaign's target. Groundbreaking is scheduled to being in less than five months.
The money raised to date includes $31.2 million in public bonds, backed by hotel tax revenue, that the city of Little Rock sold last year.
Little Rock City Hall owns the building and has committed to spending $700,000 per year to maintaining it. The nonprofit Arkansas Arts Center Foundation owns the artwork and controls an endowment from which it makes annual grants to help cover the museum's operating costs.
The Arts Center announced last year the construction budget swelled from $46 million to $70 million prior to unveiling a high-level concept design of the new facility over a year ago. The ambitious plan aims to make the museum more inviting, easier to navigate and better linked with neighboring MacArthur Park, said Jeanne Gang of Chicago-based Studio Gang, the lead architect.
Construction is tentatively scheduled to begin by early October, and the redone museum would reopen in early 2022. The Arts Center in the interim will headquarter at 2510 Cantrell Road, the site of the former Walmart Neighborhood Market.