Old State House Museum

The Old State House Museum in Little Rock, Arkansas has a history dating back to 1833 when the construction of the state capitol was started. Old State House Museum grounds have hosted an array of dramatic and historically significant moments in Arkansas history from the admission of Arkansas to the Union, a fatal knife fight between two prominent legislators, the vote to officially join the confederacy and secede from The United States, and the research center for malaria and hookworm. There were even two presidential acceptance speeches held at the former Arkansas State Capitol. Old State House Museum


»Old State House Museum History

Old State House Museum History


The capitol building first began construction in 1933 when the territory of Arkansas had a large enough population to apply to become a state. Architect Gideon Shryock designed the building to be a Greek revival style to create a connection between the ideals of the original Greek democracy and the new American democracy. The capitol soon became the Confederate State Capitol of Arkansas in 1861, but was used as the Union Military post in Arkansas after the Union troops captured Little Rock in 1863.

In 1874 the grounds and building were actually the forefront of a military battle for governorship of Arkansas between Brooks and Baxter. Known as the Brooks-Baxter war, President Ulysses S. Grant had to threaten national military intervention to end the fighting between the two republican factions if they did not end it peacefully on their own. Luckily, this was the last dramatic and violent occurrence on the property.

In 1880, the capitol building was renovated to include all three branches of government until the new capitol building was finished in 1911. After the government center moved, the building was used as Arkansas School of Medical Sciences. This school achieved great medical advancement in the treatment of hookworm and malaria through the Crosset Experiment. The school became renowned worldwide for this research.

The greater part of the twentieth century the building was used for numerous ventures including a war memorial, police headquarters, and offices for political statewide organizations. It was not until 1947 that the state capitol building became a museum through legislature and became of Old State House Museum. The museum was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1969 and designated a national landmark in 1997. The current mission of the Old State House Museum is to preserve, share and celebrate the history of Arkansas and its people. The museum is the oldest intact state capitol building west of the Mississippi River and has also been the site for President Bill Clinton's election night celebrations in 1992 and 1996. Little Rock, AR: Old State House Museum - Photo: Old State House Museum

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»Collections

Collections


The Old State House Museum began collecting and researching items relevant to the history of Arkansas in 1950. The online collection of artifacts represents only a fraction of the entire collection that will hopefully be added online in the near future. The collections of artifacts that are presented online are not part of any particular exhibit and is constantly being added to as new items are discovered, researched and verified. There are currently 46 different collections available for online viewing. Many of these artifacts are not seen in the museum because they are not a part of any current exhibits, although they may have been showcased in past or future exhibits.

The 1904 World's Fair Collection features tumblers, spoons, stereoviews, sheet music, programs, coins, photographs, postcards, books and many other souvenirs from the world's fair.

The Quilt Collection contains quilts, blocks and patterns dating back as far as 1890. The Arkansas Arts Pottery Exhibit, Cut Glass and Crystal Collection, Meet Me In St. Louis, Music in Arkansas, Sweet Sounds, and textiles collections all relate to the arts and their influence in Arkansas. There are instruments, pottery, glass works, sheet music, stage directions, historic clothing and other interesting and artistic artifacts that can be found in these collections. Little Rock, AR: Old State House Museum - Photo:

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»More Collections

More Collections


Women's History Collection, We Remember Growing Up In Arkansas, Sam Dellinger, Prohibition, Mexican-American War, Civil War, Brother's in Arms, Arkansas/Arkansaw, and Arkansas African-American collections are all focused on the history of the state and its progression through the last two centuries. Each of these collections contains artifacts relevant to particular periods of history or significant events.

Several of the collections focus on the politics of Arkansas, in particular the Clinton's and other former governors. The Clintons have a collection dedicated solely to their family, personal life, and political life. Other collections in this category include artifacts significant to the Union, the Confederacy, general politics, battle flags, first families, law and justice, national politics, prohibition and pillars of power.

There are a few collections that focus on Hollywood and film creation in Arkansas, maps of Arkansas, medicine, architecture and eateries. As more artifacts are found and categorized, they will be added to their online database for public viewing and may even be seen in upcoming exhibitions inside the museum. Little Rock, AR: Old State House Museum - Photo:

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»Exhibits

Exhibits


Exhibits are scheduled on a rotating basis using artifacts from the various collections in the museum archives or partners in preservation of Arkansas history. The current Exhibitions are the World's Fair of 1904 and Arkansas/Arkansaw: A State and Its Reputation.

The 1904 World's Fair exhibit features hundreds of items that were recovered from, sold as souvenirs, or are related to the World's Fair including tumblers, tableware, programs, pamphlets, music, photographs, statues, stamps, matches, ribbons, postcards, pins, mirrors, medallions, and much, much more. Some of the artifacts are from earlier World's Fairs as well and many are leant to other museums for their own exhibitions on the World's Fair.

Arkansas/Arkansaw: A State and its Reputation contains artifacts that relate to what the rest of the country thinks about the great state of Arkansas. The exhibit includes items such as popular sheet music from the 1800's and early 1900's all the way through the 1980's. There are also sketches, stamps, relics related to prohibition and the cigar tax, postcards, records, and poems and literature. Many of these items reference the "hillbilly" stereotype that Arkansas is known for throughout much of the United States. There are also instruments such as banjos and fiddlers on display.

The upcoming exhibit is called "Cabinet of Curiosities: Treasures from The University of Arkansas Museum Collection." The University of Arkansas Museum closed to the public in 2003, so it is a great privilege for the Old State House Museum to beable to showcase some rarely seen artifacts from this collection that center around the "weird" and eccentric side of history. Artifacts such as dinosaur toes, infamous gangsters Bonnie and Clyde's guns, Ming Dynasty pottery, mammoth jaws and Mexican pig masks made of wood are just some of the items that are meant to ignite the imagination of viewers, especially those patrons who are visiting the museum for the first time. Little Rock, AR: Old State House Museum - Photo:

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»Events

Events


The Old State House Museum features many community events and resources. The little beginnings pre-k program is a once weekly, hands on learning experience for preschool age children. The program is currently scheduled for Wednesdays and lasts one hour. This is an activity that is open to the public and not intended for school or daycare groups. All children must be accompanied by an adult and childcare for siblings that are too old or young for the event, is not provided. Every week there is a new theme that is explored through storytelling and art projects.

Once a month the Second Friday Art Night is held at the museum and visitors are allowed to enjoy refreshments and live entertaining while browsing the museum exhibits. The program is from 5pm to 8pm and has no age restrictions.

Several times throughout the month visitors can enjoy lectures by guest speakers that give educational talks and performances on pertinent events in Arkansas history. Visitors should bring a brown bag lunch while the museum provides soda and water. Little Rock, AR: Old State House Museum - Photo:

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»Plan Your Trip

Plan Your Trip


The best part of the Old State House Museum is that admission is completely free. They are open 9am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and 1pm to 5pm on Sundays. They are closed on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Day and Thanksgiving only.

The museum is completely handicap accessible with a ramp entrance on the East Loggia, elevators, wheel chair lifts and captioned video exhibits. Special tours can be arranged for blind patrons and all restrooms are wheel chair accessible as well.

Old State House Museum is conveniently located next to a trolley stop. Parking is for one and a half hours on the street and have a fee during the week, however, weekends there is free parking. Guests will also be happy to know that there is free one hour parking at the Doubletree hotel parking garage across the street that is honored by showing your museum ticket for that day.

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 300 W Markham St, Little Rock, Arkansas 72201, Phone: 501-324-9685 Little Rock, AR: Old State House Museum - Photo:

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Little Rock, AR: Old State House Museum