As the Momentary’s opening date draws nearer, years of work are being realized. Spearheaded by Olivia Walton, chairperson of the Momentary Council, along with her husband Tom and brother-in-law Steuart Walton, the idea for this contemporary art space was conceived through an ambitious vision of economic opportunity, cultural expansion for Northwest Arkansas, and inspiration from their aunt Alice Walton, founder of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Learn more about how the Momentary came to be.

Seeing the Need

Earlier this year, the Northwest Arkansas Council reported that the region’s growth increased 18.6 percent since the 2010 Census, with Bentonville leading the four largest cities of the region. With growing companies and the announcement of Walmart’s new home office, it is anticipated that more and more people from around the country will be calling Northwest Arkansas their home in the decades to come, particularly millennials, the largest generation in the US workforce.

Millennials, as a generation, have been identified as experiential consumers, people that want to spend their time on experiences, rather than things. They take a very broad view of arts and culture, a view that includes music venues, great food, outdoor experiences, and unique places to hang out: in sum, the Momentary.

“It’s important to us that young professionals come here to chase quality of life just as much as they come here to pursue professional opportunity.” – Olivia Walton, chairperson of the Momentary Council

Quality of life can be defined in many ways, but it ultimately measures a subjective level of happiness among individuals in a community. According to the Walton Family Foundation’s 2018 Quality of Life study, 95 percent of residents reported being “happy” or “fairly happy,” and there was a significant increase in attendance across key arts and culture amenities. With the support of the Walton Family Foundation, Olivia, Tom, and Steuart Walton are leading the charge to elevate the area’s quality of life by bringing more arts opportunities to Bentonville through the Momentary.

“Our commitment to cultivating arts and cultural experiences provides more opportunities for education, engagement, and enjoyment in our region.” – Tom Walton, Home Region Committee chair

The Momentary will continue Northwest Arkansas’s cultural journey through art, music, and food that unites the hobbies and interests of community members from various backgrounds and experiences. The artists and performers featured at the Momentary will also reflect the diverse complexity of the community and the nation.

Finding Inspiration

There are several contemporary art spaces around the world that are easy to admire. One of the big inspirations for the Momentary is MoMA PS1 in New York. An affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA PS1 is an exhibition space that displays contemporary art, music, and performance programming. MASS MoCA, located in North Adams, Massachusetts, is another inspirational contemporary space that was converted from a factory into a museum, similar to the Momentary’s adaptive reuse project.

Positioning the Momentary in downtown Bentonville offers the opportunity for people across the community to convene in a central location that is accessible by the Razorback Regional Greenway. It also allows folks the opportunity to engage in cultural experiences together in a space that is welcome to anyone with curiosity and a thirst for new experience.

The Meaning Behind the Name

History and culture happen in the moment. It’s happening now. And now. And now. This concept became the idea behind a space that would focus on art, music, and performance that are being created in the present moment. Thus, the Momentary was born.

“The name is a play on the word ‘contemporary,’ and the idea of being in the moment. It also speaks to that fleeting quality found in music and performance.” – Olivia Walton

It is aptly named because artworks and programs at the Momentary will change regularly, focusing on the current moment. This means that every single visit to the space will provide a new experience for guests and will encourage them to have an open mind that is ready to delight in new surprises.

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