by Max Brantley
In London, it was a hulking electric power station (now the Tate Modern). In North Adams, Mass., it was an electronics plant (whose buildings now house the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art). In Beacon, N.Y., it was a Nabisco cracker-box factory (now home to Dia:Beacon, the mecca of Minimalist and Conceptual art). And next in the march of postindustrial artification, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark. — home to Walmart — has announced plans to transform a defunct Kraft cheese plant into a raw space for contemporary-art exhibitions, artists’ projects, music, theater and film.Tom Walton, 32, one of Sam's grandsons and a force in Bentonville now through advocacy of bike trails, new restaurants and, not incidentally, looser liquor laws, is spokesman for the effort in the Times. He says this is part of an effort to make Bentonville "one of the hottest destinations in the country."
The 63,000-square-foot space is intended to function somewhat in the way that MoMA PS1 in Long Island City, Queens, serves as an edgier, more experimental affiliate of the Museum of Modern Art. It is expected to open in 2018, Crystal Bridges officials said, and the location, in downtown Bentonville, would not only provide a place to show more contemporary art but would also continue a transformation of the small city and the surrounding region into a cultural alternative to cities like New York and Los Angeles.