The Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts (AMFA) is set to open in May 2022.
Construction still continues on the Little Rock museum, but officials say that the project has remained on schedule despite the pandemic. One of the museum’s signatures º it’s flowing and fold concrete roof – has been completed.
According to executive director Victoria Ramirez, the AMFA’s transformation will result in greater accessibility of the arts for Arkansans.
“From the outset, the goal of this project has been to make accessible the very best of art and architecture to Little Rock,” Ramirez said in a statement. “In working with Studio Gang and SCAPE, we are realizing the most contemporary ideas about museums and public spaces and creating a new paradigm that is both art and people-centric.”
Studio Gang, led by architect Jeanne Gang, has headed up the design of the museum, alongside Polk Stanley Wilcox and landscape architecture company SCAPE. In Studio Gang’s design, the AFMA will be centrally located within 11 acres of public landscape, inspired by Arkansas native ecologies, that opens onto downtown Little Rock.
The renovated museum will feature exhibition, education and performance spaces, with a new restaurant that offers floor-to-ceiling views of the surrounding park. Drawing inspiration from the past, Studio Gang resurrected the original Art Deco 1937 Museum of Fine Arts façade for the north entrance, which also features a new outdoor courtyard.
“The rich history of the institution, of MacArthur Park, and of Little Rock is celebrated through the renewal of the historic facade,” Ramirez said. “The façade is a symbol of AMFA’s legacy, reflecting the decades of community engagement and support that have allowed the Museum to build its exceptional collection and innovative programming. The institution’s new name – Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts – is a commitment to continuing this legacy of creating exceptional arts experiences for our community and the entire state.”
Despite the ongoing pandemic, construction has continued over the past year, with the project employing more than 50 Arkansas companies. Currently, museum staff are working on cataloguing the AMFA Foundation Collection, preparing art for conservation and making upgrades to museum systems.
“Great architecture can transform a city,” Ramirez said. “Little Rock values the arts – and we want every member of our community to enjoy the benefits of a thoughtfully designed space dedicated to art and community. In a sense, we’re building a monument to Little Rock – a beautiful piece of architecture to celebrate our community and our future.”
Photo credit: Timothy Hursley, Courtesy of Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts