LITTLE ROCK — Special exhibits and artist commissions for next year’s reopening of the recreated Arkansas Art Museum in Little Rock were announced simultaneously Tuesday in Little Rock and at an event in live in New York in which former President Bill Clinton participated.
The museum’s new 133,000 square foot building – which will open on April 22, 2023 – will house its permanent and international collection of 14,000 works of art dating back to the 14th century, according to museum planners.
The opening permanent collection installation will include museum drawings by Paul Victor Jules Signac, John Marin and Georgia O’Keeffe as well as paintings by Diego Rivera and Elaine de Kooning.
The Drawn to Paper exhibit will showcase the museum’s holdings of 20th-century American and European works on paper.
The reopened museum will also include:
• Site-specific commissions by contemporary artists Anne Lindberg and Natasha Bowdoin.
• Work by Chakaia Booker.
• The New Media Gallery showing the animation video “Tears of Chiwen” by Beijing-based artist Sun Xun.
• The inaugural banner exhibition titled “Together” – which explores art’s connection to each other and to the natural world – and will be made up of new acquisitions and loans from artists such as Elias Sime, Ryan RedCorn, LaToya Hobbs and Oliver Lee Jackson.
“I’m thrilled with this transformation,” Clinton, the former president and governor of Arkansas, said of the recreated museum.
“Visitors around the corner and around the world will enjoy a world-class facility in the heart of Little Rock,” he said in a press release. “This project is a great model of public/private cooperation – for small towns and big cities alike – and I’m grateful to everyone who came together to make it possible.”
Clinton joined the museum’s leadership team for Tuesday’s announcement in New York City at the Seagram Building pool in Manhattan.
Victoria Ramirez, the museum’s executive director, called the artists and their works selected for the first year “dynamic” and “representative of diverse artistic voices and practices.”
“With our permanent collection facility and exhibits, our visitors will experience works that uniquely tell the story of AMFA, an institution that has brought the art world to Arkansas for generations,” said Ramirez. .
Harriet and Warren Stephens, co-chairs of the Arkansas Art Museum’s fundraising campaign, announced in recent weeks that the fundraising campaign supporting the reimagined museum project has topped $150 million, surpassing the original goal. of $128 million.
Harriet Stephens, also chair of the building committee, said in Tuesday’s press release that the museum has been “supported by the passion of a dedicated community” since its inception.
“This project was a perfect opportunity to give Little Rock and Arkansas the sustainable, world-class 21st century arts destination they deserve now and into the future,” she said.
Warren Stephens, chairman of the museum’s foundation as well as co-chairman of the fundraising campaign, underlined “the outpouring of support for the institution”.
“Anyone who said we couldn’t meet our ambitious campaign goals just doesn’t know this community and our state,” he said in the press release. “We have now raised an incredible $150.4 million – a testament to the philanthropic spirit of the local community – and the belief we all share in the future of Little Rock and this institution.”
Major donors are the Windgate Foundation, Harriet and Warren Stephens, the Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust, Terri and Chuck Erwin, and the State of Arkansas.
Capital’s fundraising campaign includes a $31,245,000 contribution from the City of Little Rock, generated through a voter-approved hotel tax bond.
“Our city can feel real pride — and a sense of belonging — in an institution that connects our entire community, attracts visitors, provides an economic boost to downtown and will remain open to the public, free of charge, as she always has been,” said Little Rock Mayor Frank Scott Jr.
The April opening of the revamped museum will come after nearly three years of closure for reconstruction.
The redesign unites the existing structures with a characteristic pleated-roofed central addition. The interior will include the Harriet and Warren Stephens Galleries, the Windgate School of Art with the Robyn and John Horn Gallery, Governor Winthrop Rockefeller’s Lecture Hall, the Terri and Chuck Erwin Collections Research Center, an Arts Theater stage and a modern restaurant.
Studio Gang’s architectural design also restores the historic 1937 art deco facade at the building’s north entrance and creates a south entrance that opens directly onto an 11-acre landscape, designed by award-winning landscape architect Kate Orff of SCAPE Landscape Architecture, which extends the museum experience into MacArthur Park.
“Since its inception, the Art Museum of Arkansas has placed community and arts education at the heart of its concerns. But its facilities prevented the museum from reaching its full potential,” said Jeanne Gang, founding partner by Studio Gang.
“Our design reinforces the museum’s role as the cultural anchor of Little Rock by bringing together once disparate structures into a cohesive whole and opening the building up to the surrounding city and landscape,” Gang also said.