The Arlington Museum of Art will move to Esports Stadium Arlington and Expo Center at 1200 Ballpark Way after striking a deal with the city Tuesday evening.
Under the deal, the museum will pay $2.9 million to remodel space for large-scale and immersive exhibits. The city would spend $1.9 million on improving the west side of the building’s exterior and shared corridor.
“This is going to give us the freedom to really blow the doors off and really make it a jewel and a gem for the district,” Chris Hightower, museum president and CEO, told city council.
The museum would become a space “superuser,” meaning they’d have priority over booking months-long exhibitions. The city under the agreement could host events between exhibitions. The agreement would last three years, with the possibility of renewing, and let the city receive a portion of ticket revenue.
Under the agreement, the museum could move in later 2023 and open its first exhibit in early 2024.
The museum’s exhibitions in recent years have included “30 Americans,” a showcase of 30 Black artists’ work that ran in 2021. Its showcase of “Disney Art from Private Collections” was one of its most-visited exhibitions of all time, according to the museum website.
Bob Pruitt told council during public comment that the new location is an “investment” in the city’s future, both through giving the community and especially students, a connection to the arts. He cited a recent State of the Arts Report that found that high schoolers enrolled in the arts were more likely to score higher on standardized tests and attend college and universities.
“This is clearly not an expense but an investment,” Pruitt said.
District 2 council member Raul Gonzalez asked Hightower to remember that multiple school districts serve the city, not just Arlington ISD.
“When we do anything … we need to keep these kids in mind,” Gonzalez said.
Hightower said the new building would allow more service to Mansfield, Grand Prairie and Euless school districts.
Richard Weber opposed the agreement and a claim that the museum’s move would cement the entertainment district as a hub. He added that the money toward the deal would be better spent on lowering tax rates.
“The few billions of dollars that were spent on stadiums had something to do with securing Arlington as an activity hub in North Texas. Whether this actually moves there or not does not have a major effect,” Weber said.
The city’s entertainment district is set for several major openings next year, including the National Medal of Honor Museum and construction on the 888-room Loews hotel and 200,000 square-foot convention center.
The museum launched an exhibition that lays out the vision for the AMA’s growth as well as its history. “Uncrated: Reimagining the Arlington Museum of Art, 1950-2025” runs through May 14.
Meanwhile, the museum has launched a capital campaign for their first development phase and has a buyer for the current building, according to a city presentation. The presentation does not name the buyer.
However, the nonprofit Arlington Center for Community Engagement (ACCE) has laid out a plan to redevelop the former museum location at 201 W. Main St. into a community gathering space.