The Arkansas Arts Center Artmobile receives grant from Kum & Go

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The Arkansas Arts Center received a $7,500 grant from Kum & Go to support the Artmobile’s 2019–2020 touring season. 

The Artmobile – the Arkansas Arts Center’s “gallery on wheels” – is one of very few mobile museums in the country, and the only program of its kind in Arkansas. This unique gallery space features themed exhibitions of works from the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection.

The Artmobile’s current exhibition, The Spirit of Independence, takes its name from Kent Bicentennial Portfolio: Spirit of Independence, commissioned in 1976. The exhibition presents a selection of works from the Arkansas Arts Center Foundation Collection that reflect on American history and ideals. The featured works explore movements and moments in American history, from the Great Migration to the Civil Rights and Women’s Rights movements. Other works explore the American experience through the symbols most often associated with the country. Through these works, Artmobile visitors are invited to reflect on their ideas of freedom, democracy and equality.

The Artmobile travels with an onboard educator will help visitors engage with the art and invite discussion in the context of visual arts, geography, economics, English language arts, environmental science, and technology. A curriculum guide offers a wide range of activities that fulfill Arkansas State Standards and frameworks – from quick-start activities to comprehensive lesson plans designed for K-12 audiences. Community Nights provide schools with an opportunity to invite the greater community into the gallery outside of normal school hours.

The Artmobile will be visiting libraries, community centers, fairs, and festivals throughout the state during the 2019-2020 season. When the Artmobile isn’t touring throughout the state, it will also be available for scheduled tours at the Arkansas Arts Center’s Riverdale location.

For more information, follow the Artmobile’s journey online at arkansasartscenter.org/community or on Twitter at twitter.com/ArkArtmobile.

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The Arkansas Arts Center was formally established on Sept 6, 1960

Architectural model of the original Arkansas Arts Center which would open in 1963.

On Tuesday, September 6, 1960, the City of Little Rock Board of Directors adopted ordinance 11,111 which formally established the Arkansas Arts Center.

In July 1957, the City Council of Little Rock granted the Museum of Fine Arts the authority to solicit and receive funds for expanding that museum’s physical plant.  During that process, it had been decided that the museum needed an expanded mission and a new name.  By the summer of 1960, the museum supporters had raised sufficient funds to proceed with constructing the new facility.  Therefor the new ordinance was prepared and submitted to the City Board.  (In November 1957, the City Council had been replaced by a City Board.)

Ordinance 11,111 set forth that the Museum of Fine Arts would be known as the Arkansas Arts Center and that the previous museum’s board would serve as the board for the new museum.  The Board of the Arkansas Arts Center was given the authority to have the new building constructed in MacArthur Park and the existing building modified.  As a part of the planning for the new museum, the City committed $75,000 for the capital campaign.

The groundbreaking for the new museum would take place in August 1961.  Mayor Werner Knoop, who signed Ordinance 11,111, took part in the groundbreaking.

Media attending the September 6, 1960, City Board meeting were more interested in discussion about a potential leash law for dogs within the City limits.

Registration is open for Arkansas Arts Center Museum School classes

Art classes and workshops continue this fall at the Arkansas Arts Center’s Riverdale space and select offsite locations. The Museum School offers classes and workshops in painting, drawing, ceramics, printmaking, metals, glass, jewelry and woodworking for all ages and skill levels. Registration for new students opens August 19, and classes begin in September.

At the Arts Center’s Riverdale location, Museum School students will find more than 15,000 square feet of studio space to create and learn. The Cantrell Road location will also offer convenient and secure parking and new amenities for students.

Select Museum School classes will also be held at offsite locations. Select drawing classes will be held at CALS Main Library in downtown Little Rock. At the Old Mill in North Little Rock, students will find a weekend painting workshop. Bookbinding and letterpress printing classes will be held at Yella Dog Press in downtown Little Rock. Youth studio art and theatre classes will be found at the Hillary Rodham Clinton Children’s Library and Learning Center. Select youth studio art classes will also be held at Maumelle and Terry libraries.

“It is so important that our Museum School students have the creative space they need to continue pursuing their work while our MacArthur Park building is under construction,” said Rana Edgar, Director of Education and Programs. “The Riverdale space and our partnerships with organizations across Central Arkansas have allowed us to do just that.”

The Museum School’s temporary move to Riverdale is just one aspect of the Arts Center’s commitment to remaining accessible to the community while its MacArthur Park facility is under construction. Construction on the MacArthur Park building is scheduled to begin this fall. The Museum School will move back to the Arts Center’s renovated MacArthur Park building upon its completion, scheduled for early 2022.

Registration for Fall Quarter classes opens August 19 for new students. Members of the Arkansas Arts Center get a 20% discount on classes and workshops in the Museum School. Class schedules and registration details can be found at arkansasartscenter.org/museumschool or call 501-372-4000.

Farewell Party at the Arkansas Arts Center today

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The Arkansas Arts Center is celebrating the end of an era!

After 56 years, it is time to say goodbye to the current MacArthur Park space with a party that takes over the whole building.

They have filled the galleries with a carnival of activities – karaoke, giant yard games, a beach party, photo booth, and inflatable fun zone. Don’t miss music, dancing, food, drinks and much more!

Join the AAC for family-focused fun and activities for all ages from 2–5 p.m. Starting at 5 p.m., the Farewell Festival will be 21+.

The Farewell Festival is free for Arkansas Arts Center members, with special perks available for members of ’22&You.

Membership Card Required for Entry

PS – Stay tuned for announcements of upcoming events! Just because the facility in MacArthur Park will be closed for reconstruction does not mean the AAC is ceasing having events.

August 20, 1961 – Groundbreaking for Arkansas Arts Center

On a warm Sunday afternoon, ten golden shovels turned dirt to mark the start of construction for the new Arkansas Arts Center.  The activity followed a series of speeches that day, August 20, 1961.

The speakers and dignitaries sat on the front portico of the original Museum of Fine Arts in MacArthur Park. That building would be incorporated into the new structure.

Among those who took part in the speeches and groundbreaking were Winthrop Rockefeller, Jeannette Edris Rockefeller, Gov. Orval Faubus, Congressman Dale Alford, and Little Rock Mayor Werner Knoop.

The efforts to create the Arkansas Arts Center started in the mid-1950s when the Junior League of Little Rock started an effort to establish a new art museum.  Next, the business community founded a Committee for a Center of Art and Science to accept funds donated.

When a suitable location within Little Rock could not be found, the decision was made to join with the Fine Arts Club and the Museum of Fine Arts.  Under the leadership of the Rockefellers, the drive to form the Arkansas Arts Center was launched. In September 1960, the City of Little Rock formally established the Arkansas Arts Center.

Little Rock Look Back: Birth of longtime Arkansas Arts Center director Townsend Wolfe

Townsend Wolfe, who led the Arkansas Arts Center for 34 years, was born on August 15, 1935.  He was hired to lead the Arkansas Arts Center 50 years ago this month.

Though not the founding director of the Arkansas Arts Center, Wolfe was the director for well over half of the institution’s 57 year history. Hired in 1968 at the age of 32 (making him one of the youngest art museum directors in the US at the time), he retired in 2002.  That year he was honored with the Governor’s Arts Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Arkansas Arts Council.

A native of South Carolina, Wolfe held a bachelor’s degree from the Atlanta Art Institute and a master’s degree from the Cranbrook Academy of Art. He also received a certificate from the Harvard Institute of Arts Administration, and honorary doctoral degrees from two other institutions.  After teaching some classes and seminars at the AAC in the early 1960s, he was recruited to return full-time to the Arkansas Arts Center by Governor and Mrs. Winthrop Rockefeller.

During his tenure at the Arts Center, he first was responsible for creating financial stability. After drastic cost-cutting measures, he refocused programming which led to the creation of the current Museum School, a focus of works on paper for the collection, cultivating a thriving collectors group, establishment of a children’s theatre, expansion of statewide services, and several additions to the physical structure.  He encouraged others to collect art and expanded Arts Center programming into Little Rock neighborhoods.

In addition to serving on the National Council of the Arts, Wolfe was a member of the National Museum Services Board and the board of the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in New York. He was curator for an exhibition in the First Ladies’ Sculpture Garden at the White House in 1995, and was the recipient of the 1997 Distinguished Service Award (outside the profession) by the National Art Educators Association.

Over the years, Wolfe has served in a variety of capacities for the Association of American Museums, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

Wolfe, who died in 2017, was posthumously honored by the Arts Center in 2018 with one of its Portrait of a Patron awards.  In 1973, he received the first Winthrop Rockefeller Memorial Award from the Arkansas Arts Center.