Timeline Traces History of the Momentary
Its name, the Momentary, suggests transience. But the satellite contemporary art space that Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is launching in February 2020 is sited on land steeped in regional history.
Honors College and J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences students Sydney Nichols, Emily Snyder and Darci Walton have dug deep in local archives to produce a timeline that shares the stories that the downtown Bentonville site has to tell. Moments in Time, designed by Leigh Prassel, is currently on display in the Honors College second-floor lounge in Gearhart Hall.
The site timeline begins in the 17th century, when the Osage hunted there, extends through Northwest Arkansas’ heyday in fruit production, and documents the Kraft factory that produced Swiss cheese, Velveeta and other goods from milk provided by local dairy farmers. It wraps up with the Momentary, which will open to the public on Feb. 22, 2020.
Researching the Momentary
Nichols, Snyder and Walton were among the first group of students selected to intern at the Momentary. Their assignment? Comb local archives to tease out details on who used the three-acre site, when.
“Committing to researching the site of the Momentary for Crystal Bridges was a lot like agreeing to a blind date,” Sydney Nichols said. “Covering the years before Kraft Foods’ purchase of the property, I didn’t know if I would be able to find interesting (or any!) materials. I spent a lot of my weekends at the Benton County Archives in Rogers, poring through dusty real estate tax books from as early as the 1860s to compile a list of owners and details about their lives and families. I’m extremely thankful to our team’s research mentor, Dr. Louise Hancox, for her tireless excitement about the project and continual encouragement as I learned to read township and range maps.”
Nichols, Snyder and Walton’s hard work will be rewarded during opening weekend festivities at the Momentary. They will contribute to a cooking show and performance led by artist Kristin Worrall, The Recipe: Milk, Cheese, Velveeta, Love, Hope & Transformation, which will take place at 2 p.m. Sat., Feb. 22 and Sun., Feb. 23.
“The Osage, the French, the Spanish and those who fought on both sides of the Civil War laid claim to this site over time,” said Louise Hancox, an historian and research associate at the Honors College. “I find it interesting that the timeline starts with an exploited woman, Mo-Hon-Go, part of a group of seven Osage who were taken to France in 1827 and basically abandoned there. But we end on a more positive note, with two examples of empowered women who helped to shape the Momentary: Osage artist Addie Roanhorse and project architect Calli Verkamp, an honors alumna of Fay Jones School of Architecture and Design.”
Meet the student curators, from left:
- Sydney Nichols is a sophomore Bob and Ruth Shipley Fellow majoring in art history and English with a concentration in creative writing. Originally from Marion, Nichols is interested in the literary and artistic expressions of the American South. After college, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in contemporary art and museum studies.
- Emily Snyder is a sophomore Honors College Fellow majoring in history and minoring in Spanish. Originally from Bentonville, Snyder is involved on campus as a member of the University of Arkansas Museum Student Advisory Council and as an Honors College Ambassador. After college, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in museum and archival studies, and eventually work to connect underrepresented communities with museum services.
- Darci Walton is a senior honors student majoring in history with minors in anthropology and Spanish. Originally from Dallas, Texas, Walton is heavily involved on campus serving as a Student Ambassador and Honors College Ambassador, as well as participating in the Honors Dean Advisory Board and Kappa Delta Sorority. After graduation, she plans on pursuing a doctorate in history.
Honors students Madison Whipple, Haley Lawrence and Jackson Williams also contributed to research on the Momentary site.
A version of this story also appeared in the U of A’s Newswire publication.