Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced today plans for the museum’s expansion, which will increase the museum’s galleries, create more space for educational programming and foster community engagement opportunities, as well as add event spaces, another cafe, and new indoor and outdoor gathering places. The current facilities are planned to increase by 50 percent.

Ten years after completing the original design for the museum, Safdie Architects has returned to continue the deep integration of art, architecture, and nature that has become synonymous with Crystal Bridges. Complementing existing design elements, the expansion will use regional materials sourced from Northwest Arkansas. The project creates new connections between the galleries, program spaces, and surrounding park and trails. Highlights include:

  • A 65 percent increase in gallery space including adding two new galleries and new spaces for community displays
  • More education spaces with gathering areas, plus art and maker studios
  • A new bridge connecting galleries offering space for art, reflection, gatherings, and a new café
  • An event plaza increasing opportunities for outdoor programming and performances

Since opening in 2011, Crystal Bridges has welcomed more than five million visitors with free admission to the collection and five miles of art trails on 120 acres. The museum has doubled its collection since opening, with a focus on acquiring works by underrepresented artists. In 2019, Crystal Bridges welcomed more than 700,000 visitors including 50,000 students participating in school field trips.

“It’s wonderful to see how our community and travelers from around the world have enjoyed experiencing art, nature, and architecture, thanks to  Moshe Safdie’s design,” said Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges founder and board chairperson. “With the number of visitors we welcome annually, it’s timely to enlarge our building and make sure more people can access these offerings.”

Construction will commence in early 2022 with the goal of completing construction in 2024. As a precursor to the expansion, a reconfigured main lobby and courtyard, also designed by Safdie Architects, will be complete in May 2021, according to a statement released by museum officials.