Flemish festival curator Lieven Bertels is to start work on a new project with the Crystal Bridges Museum in Arkansas, which in the past five years has been turned into a prominent art spot by the heirs of the Walmart supermarket chain.
The museum, which features work by figures such as John Baldessari, James Turrell, Mark Rothko and Andy Warhol, boasts impressive architecture set in a 50-hectare park, designed by Moshe Safdie, who was also responsible for the Yad Vashem Museum. The Walmart founders made their extensive art collection available to the centre, along with a donation of one billion euros. Since its opening in 2011 the museum has received 2.7 million visitors.
Bertels was the first artistic director of the of Concertgebouw Brugge, and later worked as director of Sydney Festival in Australia for four years. His move to Arkansas in September marks the end of his period leading preparations for Leeuwarden Friesland European Capital of Culture 2018, a position he has held since 2015, when Leeuwarden had just been informed that it would hold the title. There he contributed to a programme which includes a project based around the Elfstedentocht ice-skating race, with eleven artists creating a work of art, one in each of the cities on the race itinerary, to remain as a permanent artistic trail.
Within the scope of the Crystal Bridges project, the Kraft cheese factory in Bentonville, a site encompassing 63,000 m2, is to be converted into an art campus operating on the threshold between visual art, music, theatre and multimedia. Bertels is also to be involved in expanding the campus and attracting artists for residences.