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Crystal Bridges to grow by 50%, museum announces

Original team returns for 100,000-square-foot expansion by Jocelyn Murphy/NWA Democrat-Gazette | April 7, 2021 at 11:51 a.m.
This artist’s rendering, an aerial view looking south, shows the planned 100,000-square-foot expansion of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. The project will increase gallery space by 65% and provide education and studio areas, another cafe and “spaces for refl ection and gathering.” (Special to the Democrat-Gazette)

BENTONVILLE -- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art revealed Wednesday plans for a major expansion to be completed by 2024.

Ten years after completing the original design for the museum, Safdie Architects returns to the project to create an expansion that will add nearly 100,000 square feet to the facility, increasing the museum by 50%.

The expansion will allow the museum to showcase its growing collection and welcome more visitors, a news release said.

"With the number of visitors we welcome annually, it's timely to enlarge our building and make sure more people can access these offerings," said Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges founder and board chairwoman. "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."

Gallery space will increase by 65%: two new galleries, plus an addition to gallery space for temporary exhibition. More educational spaces and a dedicate floor with community gathering areas and makers spaces will serve to further engage community visitors and creators alike, according to the release.

Elsewhere, the expansion will add to the collection of pavilions nestled into the landscape surrounding the museum. A new bridge connecting two galleries will offer nontraditional space for art that is not sensitive to light and will house a new cafe. A new outdoor event plaza will also increase opportunities for programming and performances.

"It has been a joy to see Crystal Bridges' enthusiastic reception by the public. We are honored to be back and working with the museum to realize a series of new facilities which will enrich the diversity of the museum experience," said Moshe Safdie, founder of Safdie Architects.

The project is currently in the design development phase, with construction beginning in early 2022, and a goal of completing construction in 2024.

The expansion follows a reconfigured main lobby and courtyard, also designed by Safdie Architects, to be completed next month.

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