After years of design and construction, the reimagined Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts reopened to the public this weekend in Little Rock.
In collaboration with Studio Gang, SCAPE designed an 11-acre landscape that nests the new museum in a lush, forested environment. Featuring 2,200 linear feet of added paths, the landscape features a matrix of over 250 new trees that will merge with the existing canopy over time, blending outward into the adjacent MacArthur Park—Little Rock’s oldest municipal park.
To the south, the landscape features a series of petal-shaped stormwater gardens that extend the museum’s architectural language outdoors, each given form by precast seatwalls and “splash pads” of native sandstone that capture stormwater runoff from the building’s iconic folded-plate roof. These gardens are planted with a mix of water-tolerant perennials and native trees, including oaks and wax myrtles, that sustain insect and bird populations. The new design also incorporates opportunities for art appreciation across the grounds, including an expanded open-air sculpture collection, art production space, and flexible lawns for public events and performances.
To the north, curving pathways welcome visitors through strolling gardens. To the west, visitors arriving by car are welcomed into forested parking rooms. In all directions, the design celebrates the state’s renowned biodiversity—the low oak savannas to the northeast, the bands of stone in the foothills of the Ouachita Mountains, and the wetlands of Bayou Bartholomew.
At a broader scale, the landscapes around the new Museum encapsulate its mission writ large—to create a more open and welcoming cultural commons, seamlessly bridging together indoor and outdoor spaces to reflect, gather, and celebrate the region’s artistic and environmental richness.