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  (In November 1957, the City Council had been replaced by a City Board.)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.

201 years of the Quapaw Line

Stones placed in Riverfront Park denote where there Quapaw Line started from La Petite Roche

On August 24, 1818, the Quapaw Line was drawn.  Starting at La Petite Roche and heading due south, this line formed the boundary between the Quapaw tribal lands and public lands available for settlement.  (In the 1810s and 1820s, the Quapaw alternated between Central Arkansas and Northwest Louisiana depending on preferences of the tribal leadership.)

Though by 1824, the Quapaw were forced by the federal government to give up all of their lands in the area, the line continued serve as an important marker.   In the ensuing six years, the first permanent settlement of Little Rock took place and streets were planned.

The 1818 treaty referred to La Petite Roche as the Little Rock.  Some have speculated that this is the first official use of “Little Rock” to designate the outcropping and to name the area.  When the U.S. Post Office was established in March 1820, it was given the name Little Rock.

There is a marker commemorating the beginning of the Quapaw Line located at La Petite Roche in Riverfront Park.  The first segment of the line is also noted in the park.  There are also sunken markers place along the line at various points.  In MacArthur Park, at the corner of 9th and Commerce Streets, there is a marker noting that the line passed through at that location.  A few years ago, engineers from Garver retraced the line using modern technology. They found the original surveyors’ work to be extremely accurate.

A good account of walking the Quapaw Line through downtown Little Rock can be found on this website.

Most of what is now called the Quapaw Quarter was located to the west of the Quapaw Line.  However, it did take its name from the fact that the tribe had once lived in that area and was later sequestered to lands near it.  The name for the area was chosen by a committee composed of David D. Terry, Peg Newton Smith, Mrs. Walter Riddick Sr., Dr. John L. Ferguson, and James Hatcher. They had been appointed to a Significant Structures Technical Advisory Committee to advocate for preservation of important structures as a component of the City of Little Rock’s urban renewal efforts.

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.

MacArthur Museum hosts Arkansas State Archives exhibit on Territorial Arkansas

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“Territorial Arkansas: The Wild Western Frontier” will open at the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History August 1st, 2019.

The exhibit will have a month long run and will end on August 26th.

The traveling exhibit consists of 15 panels that explore the history of Arkansas Territory though the collections of the Arkansas State Archives and their branch archives, the Northeast Arkansas Regional Archives in Powhatan and the Southwest Arkansas Regional Archives in Washington.