45,500 square-foot facility Amazeum will be located nearCrystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville
After a planning stage spanning more than seven years, Northwest Arkansas will soon be home to a new interactive and discovery center. The facility, to be named the “Amazeum” and to be located on land near Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Northeast J Street was officially announced at a press conference.
“This is a day we’ve been anticipating since early 2006, when a group of visionary parents, business leaders and educators recognized the need for a museum that would amaze children of all ages and their families while enhancing the quality of life throughout the region,” says Bob Arvin, president of the Amazeum’s Board of Directors. “We can’t believe the day is finally here and are looking forward to watching it all come together in the coming months.”
The Amazeum’s new executive director, Sam Dean, was also introduced at the event. Dean comes to Northwest Arkansas following a more than 18-year career in museum development and direction.“The plan and concept of the Amazeum will offer not only economic benefits to the entire Northwest Arkansas region, but will also strengthen ties between families, generations and cultures,” he says.
The announcement of the children’s museum comes after a multi-year fundraising project allowed the museum to meet an important fundraising milestone and secure a 1:1 matching donation for $10 million from the Walton Family Foundation. In addition, the Walton Family Foundation is donating the land for the Amazeum. Other major commitments from Lee and Linda Scott, The Hershey Company, General Mills, Nickelodeon, the Walmart Foundation and others have allowed the public phase of fundraising efforts to begin.
Eric and Elda Scott, longtime supporters and volunteers for the museum project are leading its fundraising efforts. “It’s been a privilege to witness the generosity of our friends and business associates,” said the Scotts. “As we watch the Amazeum become a reality, there will be many more opportunities for support from generous individuals and businesses who are interested in the future of kids and their families.”
“Northwest Arkansas has become a destination for business, culture, and life. Visitors readily recognize the positive impact of community involvement. Again, the suggestion of one has led to the collaboration of many. The soon to be built Amazeum, is another legacy of the special and generous individuals and corporations that make our community and our region a special place,” said Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin.
The Amazeum’s design and exhibits are being created to appeal to all ages with hands-on activities that will entertain the entire family. The Amazeum’s interactive exhibits will pay tribute to the land, industries and people that built the Arkansas culture and sustain it today. Exhibits include a Tinkering Studio, water area, climbable tree canopy and a lab.
In addition to the 44,500 square feet inside the museum, approximately an acre of outdoor space will accommodate year-long learning and provide a backdrop for experiments and experiences inspired by the seasons. “The unique outdoor environment in Arkansas presents an exceptional opportunity to bring deep learning and nature exploration into the Amazeum,” Dean says.
For businesses and organizations in the region, the Amazeum will also boast meeting spaces, creating a new venue for corporate retreats to inspire creativity and teamwork.
“I am excited about the dynamic contribution the Amazeum will make to the Northwest Arkansas Region. The Amazeum will bring learning to life and enhance family involvement, as well as evoke a sense of curiosity and exploring. The Amazeum will undoubtedly be a star attraction among the region’s educational and entertainment venues” stated David Gearhart, Chancellor, University of Arkansas and member of the Governance Board.
“It’s our hope that everyone who understands and believes in the impact the Amazeum will have for youth and families throughout the region will become part of the museum’s extended family,” says Dean. He went on to explain that a membership program would be introduced in the coming months.