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A really big deal

Updated: Jan 10

On April 22, the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts will hold its grand opening. The AMFA debut in MacArthur Park is the biggest thing to happen in downtown Little Rock since the Clinton Presidential Center opened in November 2004.

Consider this fact: In 2021, Icon magazine published a piece headlined “Architecture To Look Forward To.” The eight projects in the story included only one in the United States — the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts.

That’s a big deal for Arkansas.

“Another major cultural project for Jeanne Gang and her studio, AMFA provides a new public gallery and gathering space,” the magazine noted. “The project … also focuses on strengthening and clarifying connectivity with the broader AMFA campus.”

Gang, a MacArthur Fellow (commonly known as the genius grant) and a professor in practice at Harvard Graduate School of Design, heads Studio Gang. Her firm does work around the world.

Meanwhile, internationally known landscape architecture firm SCAPE designed 13 acres of MacArthur Park surrounding the museum. SCAPE has as sterling a reputation as Studio Gang.

“In working with Studio Gang and SCAPE, we’re realizing the most contemporary ideas about museums and public spaces,” says Victoria Ramirez, AMFA’s executive director.

Along with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, AMFA will give this state two world-class art museums. That’s pretty amazing for a state of just more than 3 million people.

I’ll have more in my column Wednesday on the Voices page of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. I hope you’ll take the time to read it.

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