- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 12, 2019

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - The Arkansas Arts Center will move into a former Walmart in Little Rock while the downtown museum gets a nearly $99 million makeover.

Museum officials said Monday that the old Walmart Neighborhood Market will begin housing its staff, art classes and children’s theater rehearsals in September. The move comes about a month before crews are scheduled to break ground on the center’s more than two-year renovation project, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported.

The museum’s nonprofit foundation didn’t disclose the lease terms.

“This puts us in really good shape with our goal to keep everybody employed, to keep our students and members engaged and to be able to really offer some robust programming while the building is under renovation,” said Laine Harber, the museum’s interim executive director.

The center will continue to hold museum school classes for its roughly 3,000 students in the temporary location. The 65,000-square-foot space that’s sat vacant since 2017 can fit classes that require larger rooms or heavy equipment, such as woodworking and ceramics.

Art school classes and workshops will be held at the MacArthur Park center through the summer, and relocated to the temporary site in the fall.

In November, the museum announced a partnership with the Central Arkansas Library System to display some of its artwork during construction. Several library branches will also host some of the museum’s programs, such as lunchtime conversations about art and the preschool program Art Start.

Harber said the museum can now shift its focus to the logistics of packing and moving.

“We’re still talking to different cultural partners,” Harber said. “It’s likely those types of partnerships will continue over time, even once we do move out of here.”

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Information from: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, http://www.arkansasonline.com

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