Women’s History Month Throwback Thursday: The Fine Arts Club

In 1914, a group of women interested in visual art came together in Little Rock and formed The Fine Arts Club of Arkansas. 

In the early years, they gathered for regular discussions and taught art classes. 

Over time, the Fine Arts Club started acquiring artworks through donations. Originally they displayed these in the Pulaski County Courthouse in a room loaned to them for that purpose. 

Eventually, the County needed the space and the Fine Arts Club needed more room.  In the early 1930s, members approached Mayor Horace Knowlton with the suggestion of the City constructing a fine art museum. 

After securing funding for construction from the WPA, ground was broken and the Museum of Fine Arts opened in 1937 in City Park (now MacArthur Park).

Members of the Fine Arts Club staffed the museum as volunteers and docents as well as arranged for traveling exhibits. From the museum, the club continued to offer classes and guest lectures

By the mid-1950s, there was a desire for larger exhibit space, and the Fine Arts Club joined with the Junior League and the City of Little Rock in creating a new art museum.  

In 1963, the Arkansas Arts Center opened in MacArthur Park. This new facility encompassed the previous museum as well as additional spaces. With the hiring of professional staff to curate exhibits and teach classes, the Fine Arts Club transitioned to a volunteer corps and continued special monthly programming. 

Today, the purpose of the Fine Arts Club is to promote and extend the activities, usefulness and enjoyment of the Arkansas Arts Center.  The Fine Arts Club supports the Arkansas Arts Center by hosting programs featuring knowledgeable and dynamic speakers, and providing volunteers.