Arkansas Arts Center to rebrand as Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts; capital campaign grows to $142 million

by Roby Brock ([email protected]) 1,050 views 

The Arkansas Arts Center rebranded Monday (Jan. 25) as the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, a tribute to its origins as well as a strategic move to position the museum for future growth. In addition, museum leaders announced an expansion of its $128 million capital campaign to a new goal of $142 million.

While unveiling the museum’s new brand, AMFA leaders announced the capital campaign supporting the construction of its new museum building has raised $135,944,426, surpassing its previous goal of $128 million.

“AMFA is at a defining moment in its history,” AMFA Board of Trustees President Van Tilbury said. “Our new name reflects this monumental transformation. Welcome to the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts.”

The institution’s new identity is both a promise for its future and a nod to the past. The Museum of Fine Arts, which opened in Little Rock’s MacArthur Park in 1937, became the Arkansas Arts Center in 1959, and the building underwent several renovations and additions in the latter half of the 20th century.

The new Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts is currently under construction in MacArthur Park, a project that began in 2016. The Art Deco façade from 1937, bearing the title “Museum of Fine Arts,” will be revealed once again as the north entrance of the new AMFA when it opens in 2022.

The Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts is home to a renowned art collection, art school, and performing arts experiences and is scheduled to re-open in 2022.

“The new Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts is a game-changer for our city and state, and the enthusiasm for the project has prompted us to think even bigger,” said Warren Stephens, AMFA Foundation Chair and Capital Campaign Co-Chair with his wife, Harriet. “As we continue to build the endowment, this new fundraising goal will allow the museum to bring dynamic and diverse special exhibitions to Little Rock and offer our community and statewide audiences engaging arts experiences.”

The expansion of the capital campaign aims to allow for the preservation of the museum’s historic façade. It will also allow for an expanded landscape footprint and more programming space, including an additional 1,000 square feet of gallery space.

“The arts are paramount to building strong and dynamic communities,” said Harriet Stephens, Building Committee Chair and Capital Campaign Co-Chair. “The new Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts will be a landmark for the state and will be further recognized both nationally and internationally for its world-class collection and architecture. As the campaign continues, we hope many more Arkansans will join us in continuing to build our cultural future in our state.”

“We are bringing the very best of art and architecture to Little Rock,” AMFA Executive Director Victoria Ramirez said. “The increased campaign goal allows us to realize and better equip even more spaces for innovative events and programming to better serve the community. We are also able to show more art, including contemporary works, in the galleries, in hidden corners throughout the building, and grounds. The new building launches a new era of programming and exhibitions for the museum.”