Northwest Arkansas National Airport is exploring the possibility of a small art gallery in the terminal.
After gaining the Regional Airport Authority’s approval earlier today, XNA staff will work with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville to create the gallery. The gallery would be built just east of the Say Si Bon! grab-and-go market that’s on the secure side of the airport terminal.
Blake Woolsey, a member of the airport authority board, spoke in favor of seeing Crystal Bridges art at XNA. She often encounters long-distance travelers who are unaware of the world-class art museum.
Airport officials have talked about creating a “sense of place” at XNA, and having a Crystal Bridges-branded art gallery in the terminal is consistent with that goal. Several months of planning and gallery construction must occur, but the venue could be open by late 2023.
XNA expects to spend between $131,000 and $168,000 to build out the space that will become the art gallery. An additional $100,000 each year will be paid to create two art exhibits at the airport.
The airport’s terminal is named after philanthropist Alice Walton. She also established the art museum that opened in 2011.
Airports around the world have incorporated art into their facilities. Few use public art better than San Francisco International Airport.
The authority gave airport staff permission to work with Paradies Lagardere and Philip Enterprises to establish a new fast-food restaurant in the terminal. Airport officials want it to go into a 1,600-square-foot space that’s near the per-turn gates used by Frontier Airlines, Allegiant Air and Breeze Airways.
Paradies and Philip already have a presence in the terminal.
Paradies operates most of the retail businesses and restaurants, including Say Si Bon!, Auntie Anne’s, CNBC News & Café and Smokewood American Grill. Philip owns several Tropical Smoothie Café locations in Northwest Arkansas as well as Einstein Bagels stores in Fayetteville, Rogers and at XNA.