Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art Plans Large Expansion

Apr 7, 2021

Moshe Safdie, founder of Safdie Architects, and Alice Walton, founder and board chairperson of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, show plans for the expanded facility.
Credit Stephen Ironside / Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in northwest Arkansas announced plans Wednesday to increase its size by 50% to showcase the museum’s growing collection and welcome more visitors.

According to a news release, the Bentonville museum will add 100,000 to the 200,000-square-foot facility. Envisioned to support Crystal Bridges’ commitment to free access to art for all, the new space will increase capacity for presenting art and exhibitions, educational and outreach initiatives, cultural programming, and community events.

Since opening in 2011, Crystal Bridges has welcomed more than five million people, the release said.

“It’s wonderful to see how our community, our region, and travelers to Bentonville from across the nation and around the world have embraced Crystal Bridges, and enjoyed the experience of being surrounded by art, nestled in nature, and immersed in Moshe Safdie’s architecture,” Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges founder and board chairperson, said in a statement. “With the number of visitors we welcome annually, it’s timely to enlarge our building and make sure more people can access these offerings. 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.”

Ten years after completing the museum’s original design, Safdie Architects will direct the integrated expansion effort with the existing pavilions and outdoor spaces. New structures will house additional galleries, educational facilities, event spaces, a café, and unique indoor and outdoor gathering spaces.

“In its first 10 years, Crystal Bridges has catalyzed economic development in Northwest Arkansas by transforming the region into a destination for tourism and enhancing the quality of life for our residents,” Nelson Peacock, president and CEO of Northwest Arkansas Council, said in a statement. “The museum’s expansion will open opportunities for artists and creatives and provide access to more world-class art in our community.”

A rendering of what the expanded Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will look like when completed in 2024.
Credit Stephen Ironside / Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The project is currently in the design development phase, with construction to start in early 2022. It’s expected to be completed by 2024. As a precursor to the expansion, a reconfigured main lobby and courtyard, also designed by Safdie Architects, will be completed in May 2021.

“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,” Moshe Safdie, founder of Safdie Architects, said in a statement.

Click here to see Crystal Bridges’ full announcement, including the museum’s impact over the past decade, expansion details and additional renderings.