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Lost Yourself in Arkansas Museums: Art, History, and Culture

Did you know that Arkansas is home to one of the most highly ranked art museums in the world? Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is just the beginning of the wealth of outstanding museums that you will discover throughout the state.

Opened in Bentonville by a Walmart heir, Crystal Bridges showcases a world-class collection of American masterpieces from colonial times to today. The museum features free admission, an outdoor sculpture garden, and a rebuilt Frank Lloyd Wright house. Bentonville is also home to the intriguing Walmart Museum and the Museum of Native American History, which features a complete mammoth skeleton.

Families will have fun with the hands-on activities at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock and the Mid-America Science Museum at Hot Springs. Jonesboro, the home of Arizona State University, is also a hub of museums. Love art? Explore inspiring galleries at the Fine Arts Center in Hot Springs and the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock.

Throughout the state, offbeat Arkansas museums add to the cultural experience. Seek out the Gangster Museum of America (Hot Springs), the Esse Purse Museum (Little Rock), and the Arkansas Railroad Museum (Pine Bluff).

Stop by Jonesboro’s ASU Museum

And Visit the Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center
Set in northern Arkansas, Jonesboro is a city located along Crowley's Ridge Parkway – home to Arkansas State University and its popular museum. Jonesboro gives the feel of a cultured college town, and encompasses a number of art galleries, museums and even the Delta Symphony Orchestra to prove it.

Check out the exhibits and observation tower at the Forrest L. Wood Crowley’s Ridge Nature Center – or head to Jonesboro’s main attraction right at ASU. The Arkansas State University Museum is an ideal stopping point for fans of natural history, American history, and art to boot. Stroll through the Native American Gallery, or check out the Mary Stack Gallery.

Do not leave the ASU Museum without visiting the Crowley's Ridge Mastodon, and check out dozens of other natural history exhibits during your time in Jonesboro. After quenching your thirst for knowledge, try exploring area cities like Searcy or West Memphis.

Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources

Offering free admission, the Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources is set in southern Arkansas in the city of Smackover – just over an hour from Hope. Set within a 25,000-square-foot structure, the museum includes an exhibit hall, theater, work area, research center, and museum shop.

The Arkansas Museum of Natural Resources also features the Oil Field Park – home to oil equipment from the 1920s like vintage derricks and reenactments. Enjoy a guided tour of the field, plus films and lectures on Arkansas’ oil and brine industrial past.

Arkansas Railroad Museum

Opened in 1943, the Arkansas Railroad Museum is a historic, regional museum set in Pine Bluff in central Arkansas. The museum features a variety of historic locomotives and railroad equipment, all set in the former Cotton Belt yard.

The museum features plenty of intriguing pieces, but perhaps is most known for the SSW #18 and Engine 819. The museum hosts semi-frequent events, including the Annual Railroadiana Show and Sale.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Tucked in the northwestern corner of the Natural State, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a recent enhancement of cultural Arkansas.

Found in Bentonville – 40 miles west of Eureka Springs and just 30 miles north of Fayetteville – the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art offers collections of American artworks ranging from the colonial period to the contemporary aesthetics of today’s art world.

Take a stroll down nearly four miles of walking trails coursing through the 120-acre grounds of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The trails are open daily from sunrise to sunset, with the museum open from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily – with the exception of Tuesday.

Enjoy full day of wandering the scenic grounds and admiring the impressive collections of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Delta Gateway Museum

Discover one of the premier outdoor destinations in Arkansas with a visit to the Delta Gateway Museum. Found in the Mississippi Delta region of the state, this museum exhibits the history of Arkansas industries like cotton and logging.

Visitors may browse through the many Arkansas pioneer artifacts – like photos and maps. Housed in what was once the Kress Building on Main Street, the Delta Gateway Museum is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Other attractions in Blytheville involve golfing at the Blytheville Country Club, the Great River Road National Scenic Byway and Historic Taylor House. Enjoy the sites and attractions in the Mississippi Delta region of Arkansas.

Faulkner County Museum

Discover one of the premier attractions in all of Arkansas. The Faulkner County Museum is located in downtown Conway – part of the Little Rock metro area. The museum is open Monday through Thursday with guided tours available.

Visitors to the Faulkner County Museum may view an 1896 historic jail, a Victorian bedroom and a circa 1900 general store replica.

Included exhibits focus on Native American heritage, Arkansas politics, and early education in Faulkner County. The museum also houses a 1940s style kitchen and the antique tools exhibit showcasing everything from the cornhusk broom.

Fort Smith Museum of History

Built in 1906, the Fort Smith Museum of History is a historic museum located near downtown Fort Smith. Named to the National Register of Historic Places, the museum focuses on artifacts native to Fort Smith and the surrounding Ozark region.

One of the more noteworthy exhibits at the museum is the authentic 1920s Soda Fountain, serving up tasty drinks and ice cream dishes. Don’t miss the constant rotation of exhibits and events, including book signings, scavenger hunts, and more.

Hampson Archeological Museum State Park

Named for Dr. James K. Hampson, the Hampson Archeological Museum State Park is located on the Mississippi River Delta in northern Arkansas. Less than an hour north of West Memphis, this Arkansas state park covers five acres and features Nodena Site archeological artifacts.

Established in 1961, the park is both a National Historic Landmark and found on the National Register of Historic Places. Free to the public, the park includes guided tours of the museum, plus picnic spots and playgrounds. Hampson is ideal during spring or summer, and is just one of the many state parks in Arkansas.

Lower White River Museum State Park

Located along the White River, the Lower White River Museum State Park is set in central Arkansas – just southeast of Searcy and an hour northeast of Little Rock. This Arkansas state park contains an interactive museum with a focus on Arkansas’ frontier days.

Free to the public, the Lower White River Museum State Park features exhibits on Arkansas territory agriculture, pearling, medicine, riverboats, timber, and the Civil War. Visitors are also encouraged to see the 1800s dogtrot log cabin replica.

MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

Throughout the state of Arkansas you'll find a wide range of exciting and historic attractions. Because of it's location, Arkansas featured heavily in the American Civil War, with numerous battles waged across the state. Plan a visit soon and check out the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History in Little Rock.

You'll find the MacArthur Museum within the Tower Building of the Little Rock Arsenal. The goal of this museum is to interpret the the military history of the state – it's a premier historical attraction in Little Rock. Visit soon to learn about those Arkansas citizens who served during the Civil War.

Old State House Museum

Originally built in 1842, the Old State House Museum occupies the building formerly home to the Arkansas State Capitol. The Capitol was relocated in 1911, leaving the building to various other uses until it became Old State House Museum in 1947.

In its current state the building is among the oldest standing state capitol buildings in the United States. Located in Little Rock, Old State House has been declared a National Historic landmark and is listed on The National Register of Historic Places.

The Museum in Little Rock features exhibits that display the rich cultural history of the state and its Southern heritage. Tours are available and encouraged in addition to resources available for classroom use. The Old State House as well as Trapnall Hall are both available for rent to accommodate weddings, receptions and gatherings.

Ozark Folk Center State Park

Set to preserve Ozark culture and heritage, the Ozark Folk Center State Park is located in northern Arkansas in Mountain View – known as the Folk Music Capital of the World. A living history museum, the Ozark Folk Center contains one the largest music and folklore collections in the country.

Visitors enjoy the Craft Village – open Tuesday to Saturday from April through November – plus workshops, live music, and even zip lining. Enjoy country cooking at Skillet Restaurant, and take a piece of the Ozarks home with you from Homespun Gift Shop.

Plantation Agriculture Museum

Focusing on Arkansas’ cotton agriculture, the Plantation Agriculture Museum is a state park found in Little Rock. The site features the 1912 museum building, the Dortch Gin Building, and Seed Warehouse No. 5. It's a premier attraction in the Little Rock metro area.

The Plantation Agriculture Museum is closed Mondays, and open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. – plus Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Set from 1836 to the end of World War II, the museum also features guided tours.

Walmart Museum

Set in the historic Bentonville Square, the Walmart Museum showcases the mega-store’s humble beginnings in Bentonville in northwest Arkansas. The museum is housed inside the original Walton’s 5-10 corner store, complete with tons of exhibits and memorabilia spanning the store’s history.

Be sure to check out Walton’s office, still featuring its original décor, as well as the Spark Café Soda Fountain. Feel free to take a snap shot of Sam Walton’s Ford F-150 truck faithfully parked outside – some store managers rub the handle for good luck

See the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum

And Visit More Museums & Galleries in Arkansas
For the literary lover in your family, a visit to Piggott is sure to please. Set in northern Arkansas, Piggott is the former stomping grounds of legendary writer Ernest Hemingway, and is home to the famed Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center.

Another city along Crowley's Ridge Parkway, Piggott encourages "Papa" fans and visitors alike to stop by the barn studio at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center.

This Arkansas State University Heritage site – listed on the National Historic Register – is where Hemingway wrote a large portion of the well-known novel "A Farewell to Arms" – not to mention a few shorts stories and chunks of other famed works.

Another attraction of Piggott is the Matilda & Karl Pfeiffer Museum & Study Center – a historic home and museum site built in 1933, plus 11 acres of botanical gardens native to Arkansas.

Explore the Pfeiffer Museum’s many exhibits including the Mineral Collection and Native American Artifact Collection. After a day of exploring both Pfeiffer establishments in Piggott, rest up at the Best Western hotel in Blytheville for another day in cultural Arkansas.