Crystal Bridges announces plans for new ‘outdoor play space’ called Convergence


BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville has announced plans for a new 4-acre “community playscape” on the southeast side of the museum’s campus.

Called ‘Convergence,’ the collaborative project between Crystal Bridges and the Amazeum will be a free, outdoor, family-friendly play space “inspired by arts, science, nature and design, inclusive for guests of all ages.”

Concept Renderings by Studio Bryan Hanes Courtesy; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

“For nearly a decade, Crystal Bridges has offered a place to enjoy a unique blend of art, nature, and architecture on our 120 acres of beautiful Ozark forest,” said Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity & inclusion officer, Crystal Bridges. “As Northwest Arkansas increases access to quality-of-life amenities, we are excited to activate our grounds in new ways. Working with the Scott Family Amazeum, Marlon Blackwell Architects, and Studio Bryan Hanes, we are creating a more dynamic, cultural ecosystem on our campus that expands art, nature, architecture, and play.”

According to the museum, the space will invite visitors to “step off the trail and into a park that uses the natural surroundings to engage the senses with interactive elements and water features that mimic the Ozark landscape.”

The design for the project is funded by the Walton Family Foundation’s Northwest Arkansas Design Excellence Program.

A timeline for construction is still in development and will be shared at a later date, according to Crystal Bridges on Thursday.

“We are excited to share the vision of this community play space that we’ve worked on in collaboration with Crystal Bridges and the Design Excellence winner, Studio Bryan Hanes,” said Sam Dean, executive director of the Amazeum. “This unique partnership brings together two different cultural institutions, both passionately interested in creativity, curiosity, and pushing the boundaries of inquiry that allow people to be explorers in nature while actively learning about the many intersections of art, science, and nature.” 

The museum is also making way for a new, six-story parking structure and program space designed by Marlon Blackwell Architects. The deck will add 800 free parking spots for Crystal Bridges, as well as for Convergence, Amazeum, and trail visitors.

The structure will also include a proscenium (theater stage), with two levels of program and engagement space on the west side of the parking deck, as well as public restrooms and more.

Construction will begin in spring 2021 with an estimated completion date of fall 2022.

J Street View of Parking Deck and Program Space Rendering by Marlon Blackwell Architects
Courtesy: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Marlon Blackwell has also designed the Crystal Bridges Museum Store, the servery for the restaurant Eleven, and the Coffee Bar.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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