Patrons enjoy a visual exhibit at The Momentary on Feb. 22.

Visitors of all ages wandered through the halls of a repurposed factory, interacting with unique works of modern art such as a wall of colorful woven saris and an artist’s supply drawers at the opening of The Momentary on Saturday.

The new contemporary art space in Bentonville, a satellite location of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Downtown Bentonville, opened with free general admission after a members-only preview Friday. The opening weekend also featured a paid performing arts festival called “TIME BEING” showcasing musical artists from around the country such as Courtney Barnett and FM Belfast.

The Momentary’s inaugural exhibition, “State of the Art 2020,” is a joint showing of contemporary art at the Momentary and the main Crystal Bridges campus. The show features works by 61 artists from around the country. The art showcased at the Momentary includes everything from paintings, sculptures and fabric art to an interactive installation with a bounce house visitors can jump on.

Kiersten Cloud, 22, a dietetic intern from Fayetteville, visited The Momentary’s opening because she saw many advertisements for the art space in the weeks leading up to the opening. She said she was not disappointed with the art on show or the space in which it is exhibited.

“Crystal Bridges feels more like a traditional art museum,” Cloud said. “This feels more like an art experience.”

In particular, Cloud loves the way the spacious gallery allows visitors to experience each individual artwork without being distracted by surrounding pieces, she said. While Cloud has been to some art exhibitions in unique spaces, she has never been to one in a repurposed factory. She thinks The Momentary is more versatile and immersive than some other art spaces, she said.

Michelle Ostendorf, 54, a Walmart Customer Care manager from Fayetteville, said she was “blown away” by The Momentary and all its exhibited art. Ostendorf, who herself creates fabric art, said she especially liked a mixed media quilt by artist Eddie Aparicio, titled “MaSeCa,” that was hung from the ceiling so visitors could walk around it on all sides.

Ostendorf said she was overwhelmed in a good way by the exciting atmosphere of The Momentary, so much so that she wants to return every day she can. The Momentary, which Ostendorf sees as positive growth for an already-thriving NWA art scene, feels like “a place where I can hang out,” she said.

The Momentary consists of a renovated 63,000-square-foot decommissioned cheese factory and its surrounding grounds. Crystal Bridges purchased the factory, which housed Kraft Foods from 1947 to 2013, in 2016 and added on new segments with modern designs while maintaining much of the factory’s original elements.

The Momentary features 24,000 square feet of gallery space, an outdoor performance space, two indoor theaters, a gift shop and three dining locations. These include an Onyx Coffee Lab location, a penthouse bar and a counter service restaurant built in what was formerly the factory staff break room.

Momentary Public Relations Manager Emily Neuman said the art space’s designers tried not to get rid of anything that served a practical or aesthetic purpose, and the renovated factory retains 20% of the original pipes used for transporting dairy and other ingredients.

The Momentary was designed as a place to experience many different art forms in an immersive way, Neuman said. Designers wanted the space’s name to capture the feeling of interacting with “the art of the moment,” Neuman said.

“The name ‘The Momentary’ comes from that fleeting motion of music, of sound, of being in the moment,” Neuman said. “We very much wanted something to represent that feeling and kind of what we are doing with being a contemporary art space for visual, performing and culinary arts.”

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