Visiting Little Rock Arkansas
A Journey Through History
By: Sandy Katz - May 14, 2016
A visit to Little Rock is a journey through history. Central Arkansas has wonderful historic museums and cultural centers. From Arkansas’ pioneer history, to leaders of civil rights movement, to military history and an award-winning zoo. Here you will you’ll find that Little Rock has unique attractions for the whole family. Many museums and galleries are within walking distance of each other.
As the city’s historical importance grows, the impact of tourism assures success. The following are among the outstanding attractions available for tourists that visit Little Rock: William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, Heifer Village, Historic Arkansas Museum, Central High School and Central High National Historic Site, Old Statehouse Museum, Mosaic Temple Cultural Center, MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, and Arkansas Art Center .
People from around the globe have traveled to Little Rock to visit the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, the newest and most advanced presidential library in the country.
President Clinton rose to fame as the Governor of Arkansas then as the 42nd president of the United States. Because of fond memories as the state’s Governor he chose to have the $165 million William J. Clinton Library and Museum located in Little Rock.
Following the Clinton’s theme of “building a bridge to the 21st century,’’ the main building is a symbolic glass bridge extending toward the Arkansas River on 27 acres. Inside the dramatic structure is a 20,000-square-foot museum, replicas of the oval office and Cabinet Room, meeting rooms and an 80-seat theater and café.
With a collection of more than 77 million pages of documents, two million photographs, 75,000 museum artifacts and 40 million e-mail messages, this is the largest of the presidential libraries. The museum also includes gifts from admirers including gold and silver ceremonial swords, crystal vases, a silver Buddha, hand-carved jade sculptures and five saxophones. In addition to an Elvis collection, there are letters from Chevy Chase and Whoopi Goldberg. There is even the bulletproof black Cadillac used by President Clinton.
Clinton said, “I think I owed my native state. I wanted to make a contribution to the development of Little Rock that I love so much.”
The Clinton Center has shown its ability to attract important development in the area near the center. The Heifer International purchased land adjacent to the Clinton Center for its $13.9 million headquarters. Heifer International is the 2004 recipient of Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian million-dollar prize. The mission of Heifer International is to work with communities worldwide to end hunger and poverty and care for the earth.
Since 1944, Heifer has helped millions of people through the gift of farm animals and training. The impact of each initial gift is multiplied as recipients agree to pass on the gift of their off-springs, or the equivalent, to another in need.
At the Heifer Village in Little Rock, you can explore more than 80 interactive exhibits to learn solutions to some of the world’s most pressing problems. Take tours of the environmentally sensitive building and restored wetlands. Finish your visit by eating indoors or out at Café@Heifer, and take home unique earth-and artisan-friendly gifts from Shop@Heifer.
The Historic Arkansas Museum interprets Arkansas history and culture using artifacts, on-site four major historic buildings and dependencies, including the oldest building in Little Rock, Hinderliter Grog Shop, built in 1827. Expert tour guides describe life on the Arkansas frontier and costumed Living History actors portray early Arkansas.
The museum’s newest gallery is devoted to the native American experience in Arkansas, primarily the state’s three indigenous tribes: Caddo, Quapaw and Osage. The exhibit highlights the language, art and life ways of Native Americans in Arkansas, the removal period from the native American perspective and the continuing viability of these three Nations.
Little Rock gained international notoriety in 1957 as the site of an intense struggle to integrate the city’s public schools. The Governor denied nine black high school students access to central High School, and President Dwight Eisenhower sent federal troops to protect the students. Today Central High School is Committed to excellence in education and is a National Historic Site.
There is now a visitor center and museum called Central High School National Historic Site where you can learn more about the events that challenged the citizens of this nation to debate the meaning of equal rights-a debate that continues today. Listen as the participants tell their stories about what happened at the school.
The imposing Greek Revival-Style Old Statehouse Museum was Arkansas’ first capitol from 1836-1911 and it houses period rooms and multimedia exhibits on regional history. Arkansas’s First Families showcases personal artifacts from Arkansas’s governors that illuminate their impact on the state; Arkansas’s First Ladies Gowns includes 27 exquisite inaugural gowns and more. It’s also where Clintons partied during both inaugurations.
The Mosaic Temple Cultural Center celebrates Arkansas’s African American life and culture as a museum of African American history. The museum offers self-guided tours, educational programs, a genealogy study center, and dynamic public programs.
MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is housed in the Tower building of the Little Rock Arsenal, birthplace of General Douglas Mac Arthur. It chronicles the contributions of the state armed forces military installation. The Arsenal Building . a National Historic Landmark and one of Little Rock’s oldest surviving structures was built in 1840 to protect Arkansas from Indian attack. This museum ensures that “old soldiers never die.” Instead, their sacrifices and service are preserved for future generations.
Located in historic MacArthur Park, the Arkansas Art center is an art museum with a theater and a studio school that offers inspiring opportunities to enjoy the arts.
Dedicated to showcasing the nationally acclaimed permanent collection , the Masterworks and Currents in Contemporary Art exhibitions engage viewers with a rich variety of drawings and contemporary objects in craft media.
Experience the Arkansas Arts center, where learning, inspiration and creative expression in the arts flourish!
IF YOU GO
Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism www.arkansas.com 1-800-872-1259 501-682-7777
Little Rock www.littlerock.com 1-800-844-4781 501-371-0076
The William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Library www.clintonlibrary.gov 501-535-0042
Heifer Village www.heifer.org/heifervillage 501-907-COWD (2697)
Historic Arkansas Museum www.HistoricArkansas.org 501-324-9351
Central High School National Historic Site www.nps.gov/chsc 501-374-1957
Old State House Museum www.oldstatehousemuseum.com 501-324-9685
Mosaic Templars Cultural Center www.mosaictemplarscenter.com 501-683-3593
Mac Arthur Museum of Arkansas Military History www.arkmilitaryheritage.com 501-376-4602
Arkansas Art Center www.arkarts.com 501-372-4000