Share This


Reimagining the Arkansas Arts Center:

Campaign for Our Cultural Future

 Arkansas Arts Center: View of New North Entry From Crescent Drive, Image Courtesy Studio Gang

Nighttime view from downtown Little Rock of the Arkansas Arts Center’s new north entrance. A new plaza opens the historic 1937 façade onto Crescent Drive. Above, the Cultural Living Room acts as a community gathering and event space. Image courtesy of Studio Gang.

The Arkansas Arts Center is pleased to announce Reimagining the Arkansas Arts Center: Campaign for Our Cultural Future, a $128 million special fundraising campaign that will realize a stunning new Arts Center for the 21st Century.

The project will result in a comprehensive reenvisioning of the Arts Center by renowned architect Jeanne Gang and her practice, Studio Gang. The new Arts Center will include a revitalized landscape, designed by Kate Orff and SCAPE, which will expand the connection between the architecture and MacArthur Park. Both Jeanne Gang and Kate Orff are MacArthur fellows who have received prestigious MacArthur “Genius” grants. The Campaign will also provide transition and opening support, and endowment funds. Scheduled for completion in early 2022, the project will strengthen the Arkansas Arts Center as the region’s pre-eminent cultural and arts education institution for visual and performing arts.

As of the Public Announcement on May 15, 2019, Campaign Co-Chairs Harriet and Warren Stephens announced that the Campaign has raised $118 million of its $128 million goal to-date.

View of the Arkansas Arts Center’s expansion, which connects improved spaces for exhibition with new community gathering spaces such as the Cultural Living Room and a double-height public Atrium. State-of-the-art Galleries showcase the Arkansas Arts Center’s world-class permanent collection of local, national, and international art, and house special exhibitions. The Cultural Living Room is a community space for casual gatherings and elevated events. Image courtesy of Studio Gang.

The campaign includes an early commitment of $31,245,000 from the City of Little Rock, which is being generated through a hotel-tax revenue bond. Private fundraising for the project has nearly tripled the City’s commitment. Early lead support has come from many important partners, including: Windgate Foundation, which has donated a lead campaign gift of $35 million; Harriet and Warren Stephens, who have made a transformational lead gift to the Campaign; Winthrop Rockefeller Charitable Trust, which has made a lead gift of $5 million. The Campaign has now garnered the early support of twenty-one individuals and foundations, along with the State of Arkansas, who are contributing significant gifts of $1 million or more to the project. These families and institutions will be recognized as 21st Century Founders for their tremendous generosity.

Twenty families and foundations have contributed early leadership donations of $100,000 or more, and there are others who have made contributions. With the involvement of donors from the community and throughout the state and region, the Arkansas Arts Center can realize this ambitious goal. Every gift is critical to raising the remaining funds needed to meet the goal, and every campaign donor will be recognized in a special way. There are recognition opportunities for donors at every gift level. Please contact Alysia Carter at (501) 396-0345 for information on the campaign and donor recognition programs.

“A remarkable group has come together with a clear understanding of the importance of reimagining the Arkansas Arts Center for the 21st Century,” said Campaign Co-Chair Harriet Stephens. “We will now reach out to the entire community and state for support to realize this once-in-a-lifetime project. Together, we can ensure that the Arkansas Arts Center is a thriving and influential cultural institution for present and future generations.”

Aerial view showing how the reimagined Arkansas Arts Center creates new pathways and connections to MacArthur Park. The design includes a new restaurant with outdoor shaded seating, walking paths, and a great lawn. Over time, a tree canopy will develop, creating a true “Arts Center in a Park.” Image courtesy of Studio Gang and SCAPE.

Donors to the project are supporting a design that features new spaces for gathering and community events, coupled with renovations to the existing building, to create dynamic new connections among the thriving education, exhibition, and theatre programs. New civic spaces will welcome visitors and community members alike, inviting them to explore the Center’s impressive programs and collections in an exciting, energy-efficient, accessible, and state-of-the-art facility.

A two-story atrium will extend through the existing museum complex to weave together the Galleries, Museum School, and Children’s Theatre. At the North end, a Cultural Living Room will act as a dynamic new community event and gathering space that will activate the building beyond business hours. A new visitor Entrance Hall will bring heightened importance to the historic 1937 Museum of Fine Arts facade. At the South end, a new restaurant will invite visitors into MacArthur Park, with shaded outdoor seating, new walking paths, a great lawn, and landscape features that work together with the new architecture to become the heartbeat of an enlivened neighborhood and city.

Off this new main axis, major renovations to the existing building will create a world-class visitor experience by amplifying the impact and accessibility of each of the Center’s programs:

  • State-of-the-art Galleries for the AAC’s world-class collection and significant traveling exhibitions, and cutting-edge collection storage facilities to preserve and maintain the collection.
  • Renovated facilities for the Museum School with increased education, amenity, and display spaces to improve the student experience and bring student work into visual dialogue with the collections on display elsewhere in the Arts Center.
  • An updated Children’s Theatre, which includes new lighting, sound and rigging systems, control rooms, audience seats, an expansion of the black box theatre, increased space for education programs, dressing rooms, and the scene shop, and the addition of a costume shop.

The Arts Center plans for a fall 2019 groundbreaking. During construction, from Fall 2019 through its planned Grand Opening in early 2022, the Arts Center will relocate to the Riverdale Shopping Center at 2510 Cantrell Road in Little Rock.


Business Hours: Mon – Fri 9 AM - 5 PM    Address: 2510 Cantrell Rd., P.O. Box 2137, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-2137    Phone: 501.372.4000

Arkansas Arts Center programs are supported in part by: Arkansas Arts Center Foundation; City of Little Rock; City of North Little Rock; Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau;
and the Arkansas Arts Council, a division of Arkansas Heritage, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

© Copyright 2020 Arkansas Arts Center. All rights reserved. All text and images are copyrighted and cannot be reproduced without written permission from their respective owners.