Cultural Spring Break in Little Rock

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It is Spring Break week! Several Little Rock museums have special activities planned.

Museum of Discovery
March 18 – March 22 • 10 am to 4 pm
Monday, March 18 – Meet and have your photo taken with Jet Propulsion from “Ready Jet Go!”  Enjoy hands-on activities that teach about space and more.
Tuesday, March 19 – Meet and have your photo taken with Nature Cat, the star o PBS Kids’ “Nature Cat”!  Enjoy hands-on activities about the wonderful outdoors and meet some of nature’s coolest animals!
All Days
Tesla Shows: 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. & 3 p.m.
Awesome Science Demos: 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 1:30 p.m. & 2:30 p.m.
Meet Museum Animals: 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. & 4 p.m.

Historic Arkansas Museum
Spring Break 2019: Settling in Arkansas
March 18 – March 22 • 10 am to 4 pm
In celebration of Arkansas’s Territorial Bicentennial, our Spring Break activities will focus on settling this state. The museum’s historic block has countless stories of making a life in early Arkansas, from just after becoming a territory to a decade after Statehood. Visitors can spend each day learning about a different person’s path to Arkansas. We will cook Pioneer food, make hands-on crafts, and share a few pioneer skills.

Little Rock Zoo

March 18 – March 22 • 9:30am to 4:00pm
See daily feedings of the penguins, interact with education exhibits, attend a meet and greet with animals, go to the Party in the Plaza, have a special meet and greet at the Arkansas Heritage Farm, and chat with animal keepers.

Clinton Presidential Center
March 18 – March 22 • 10:00am to 2:00pm
The Clinton Presidential Center invites children of all ages to enjoy FREE Spring Break activities on March 18 – 22, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Join us for FREE craft activities for the entire family! We’ll offer an instructional glass fusion project, led by Little Rock School District art specialist Sharon Boyd-Struthers, in conjunction with our White House Collection of American Crafts: 25th Anniversary Exhibit. Spring Break activities are FREE; however, admission fees to tour the Museum apply.


Arkansas Arts Center Children’s Theatre

March 19 – March 22 • 2:00pm
Special Spring Break matinee performances of Charlotte’s Web on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday of this week.

Wilbur the piglet is the runt of his litter. But under the loving care of eight-year-old Fern Arable—and due in no small part to the delicious and plentiful slops on her Uncle Homer’s farm—Wilbur grows up into a fine specimen of a pig.  Wilbur is no ordinary pig, and thanks to the acrobatic web-writing of his friend Charlotte, a kindly barn spider, the world soon learns just how “terrific” and “radiant” he is. Come join in this heart-warming barnyard adventure and marvel at the wonder of Charlotte’s web.

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St. Pat’s Day with Pat Robinson, LR’s 45th mayor

Robinson

On St. Patrick’s Day in 1900, future Little Rock Mayor Pat L. Robinson was born.  He was born in a community outside of Arkadelphia, but moved to Little Rock with his parents.

By the 1920s, Robinson was a rising star of Little Rock Democratic politics.  In April 1929, just weeks after his 29th birthday, he was elected Mayor.  He had twice been elected as City Attorney (1926 and 1928) and was one of the youngest to serve in that position.

During Mayor Robinson’s tenure, he announced plans to construct a new airport.  That project led to the creation of what is now the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.  Mayor Robinson was also involved in helping Philander Smith College secure the property where it is now located.  In addition, during his tenure, what is now the Museum of Discovery was folded into the City of Little Rock.  Shortly after taking office, he championed several projects for approval by Little Rock voters. The projects he supported were approved; the ones he did not support did not pass.

Mayor Robinson ran afoul of some of the Democratic party leaders. While the extent of the discord is not exactly known, it IS known that shortly after taking office he confronted the City Council over a special election.  Mayor Robinson sat silently while the City Council voted to approve a special election with a variety of options for voters. Only after the Council approved it did he disclose he only supported three of the initiatives.  In a bit of political brinkmanship, the Council subsequently voted to cancel the election. The Mayor vetoed their vote.  The aldermen chose not to attempt an override (though they had the votes based on disclosures made to the public and the press).  It appears that the relationship between the Mayor and the City Council never recovered.

IMG_4532During this era in Little Rock, it was customary for an incumbent mayor to be given a second term. But City Clerk Horace Knowlton challenged Robinson in the primary.  It was a bitter campaign with Robinson linking Knowlton to disreputable denizens and Knowlton charging Robinson with “an orgy of spending.”  Robinson initially came out 17 votes ahead. But after a review and a lawsuit, it was found that Knowlton ended up with 10 more votes and became the nominee.  At the time, being the Democratic nominee was tantamount to election.

After he left office, Robinson practiced law for a few years in Little Rock and then left the city.  He married a woman from England, Arkansas in the 1930s, but by the 1940 census, he was listed as divorced and living as a lodger.  He later served in the Army during World War II.  Robinson died in June 1958, and is buried in Clark County.

February’s Science after Dark is a special Valentine’s Edition

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Since the month of February is devoted to love, the Museum of Discovery is devoting a Science After Dark to it – but one can’t talk about love without exploring the science of sex. They will look at attraction and reproduction in humans and the animal kingdom.

Perhaps the best part? Exploring aphrodisiacs! And what is the world’s favorite aphrodisiac? CHOCOLATE! We’ll learn about making chocolate and pairing chocolate all while sampling chocolate with some of the best chocolatiers around!

Science After Dark is for adults 21 and up. Tickets are $10 or free for members. You will be able to purchase food, cocktails and beer from the sponsors.  Those presenting sponsors are Fassler Hall Little Rock and Dust Bowl Lanes & Lounge Little Rock and sponsors Rock Town Distillery and Stone’s Throw Brewing

Little Rock Look Back: Museum of Discovery opens in River Market

Museum of Discovery Logo when it opened in 1998

Founded in 1927 as the Arkansas Museum of Natural History and Antiquities in a downtown storefront, by 1997, the museum had been located in at least two other spots and had several different names.

On February 21, 1998, it reopened as the Museum of Discovery in its new location in the recently launched River Market district.  It occupied space on the first floor and basement of the Museum Center building (formerly the Terminal building the erstwhile train station which later was used for printing the Arkansas Democrat.)

The new name and new space reflected a greater emphasis on the science aspect of the museum’s mission.  It featured many hands on and interactive exhibits.

The museum spent one-third of its $10.6 million cost on exhibits.  Of the $10.2 million pledged for the museum, 47 percent — or about $4 million — came from a half-cent city sales tax approved by voters about five years ago. Another 14 percent came from foundations and 2 percent from private organizations and individuals. The remaining 37 percent came from corporations, sometimes in connection with specific exhibits.

Following a February 20, 1998, preview party, the official grand opening was held on February 21, 1998.

The previous museum space (inside the Arsenal building in MacArthur Park) occupied 14,000 square feet, 8,000 of which was display space. After the move, the museum had 35,000 square feet of display space.

2019 Museum of Discovery Science After Dark starts with Troopers vs. Trekkies

It’s a new year and the Museum of Discovery is stirring the pot by hosting an event that addresses one of the greatest arguments of all time – an argument that has allies in every corner of the galaxy.

On Thursday, January 31 from 6pm to 9pm, come to the Museum of Discovery for their first Science After Dark of 2019 and take part in “Troopers vs. Trekkies”

Whether you’re boldly going where no man has gone before or you’re already in a galaxy far, far away, you’ve probably heard the age-old debate about which of science fiction’s two biggest franchises is better.

Is it Star Wars?

Is it Star Trek?

Is the Museum crazy for doing this?

Science After Dark is for ages 21 and up. Tickets are $10 or free for members.

The 2019 presenting sponsor is Fassler Hall.  Sponsors are Stone’s Throw Brewing and Rock Town Distillery.

Who says the Museum of Discovery is only for kids?!? Not the hundreds of 21-and-older science-and-fun lovers who attend Science After Dark each month. Because, science is fun … at any age! Science After Dark provides visitors the opportunity to have fun and learn about science in a unique setting. Museum educators pick a science-related topic and build an entertaining, interactive evening around it. You never know what will sprout, pop, fizzle, or glow. We invite you to discover the science of having fun. Museum partners are there to serve pizza, and a full bar from craft beer to wine to cocktails is available. And beyond the themed activities each month, Science After Dark admission ($10, free for members) includes access to all museum galleries and our 90-plus hands-on, interactive exhibits.

Rock the Oscars 2019: Gregory Peck

In August 1977, Oscar winner Gregory Peck appeared in Little Rock for the premiere of the film MacARTHUR.  He played the general who had been born in Little Rock but who spent most of his life downplaying (or even denying) that fact.

MacArthur was brought to the screen by Universal Pictures.  It was their attempt to capitalize on the success of the movie Patton, including sharing some of the same members of the production team.

Told entirely in flashback, it starred Peck as the fabled World War II general who was born in Little Rock. It focuses primarily on events in 1942 during the war, his dismissal by Truman in 1952, and his famous address to West Point in 1962.

Peck initially did not care for the subject or the script, but eventually stated that he grew to admire the challenges MacArthur faced.  Peck later called it one of his favorites roles, if not one of his favorite movies.

Producer Frank McCarthy, who worked on both Patton and MacArthur once said of Patton and MacArthur: “Both were complex men but General MacArthur was complex on a much broader scale. Patton had no ambition except to be a soldier and to command a field army. He was strictly command.”

Most of the film was shot on the backlot at the movie studio, which impacted the quality of the film.  The production budget simply would not allow for overseas location filming.

The premiere was a fundraiser for the Museum of Science and History (now the Museum of Discovery).  At the time it was located in the Arsenal Building, in which MacArthur had been born.  Since 1999, that has been home to the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History.  Since MacArthur only spent a few hours in Little Rock as an adult, it is possible that Peck spent more time in the building than the General did.

The evening of August 5, 1977, started with an exclusive reception for 100 people with Gregory and Veronique Peck.  The movie itself was shown at the Cinema 150, where its general run would start on Saturday, August 6.  Following the film, a reception and silent auction brought people back to the museum.  Tickets ran $250 a person for all events, $100 a person for the film and post-show reception, and $25 for the movie.  It sold out.

Governor and Mrs. David Pryor escorted the Pecks into the theatre.  Former Governor (and World War II hero) Sid McMath introduced Mr. Peck to the crowd.  He extolled the virtues of Peck and MacArthur.  (It is interesting that he should admire MacArthur so much, since the General and President Truman had a well-publicized tiff, and McMath and Truman had enjoyed a warm relationship.)  Little Rock City Director Jim Dailey presented Peck with a Key to the City.

MacArthur did not lead to an Oscar nomination for Peck (though he did earn a Golden Globe nomination for the role).  But the actor had enjoyed four nominations prior to his win for To Kill a Mockingbird.  He also received the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award from the Academy.  He served as president of the Academy for several years.

Little Rock Look Back: Tornado lays waste to parts of Little Rock on January 21, 1999

Image result for january 1999 tornado little rockIn their 5pm and 6pm forecasts, Little Rock TV station meteorologists had warned of the potential for severe weather on the evening of January 21, 1999.

But no one seemed prepared for what happened.

A tornado cut through a huge swath of Little Rock stretching from the southwest portion of the city up through the Quapaw Quarter and beyond.  At least four people died in Pulaski County and over 150 houses were destroyed.

A Harvest Foods collapsed trapping people inside the store as storms pummeled survivors with rain and wind.  Stories were ripped off buildings. Sides of houses were peeled back.  Cars and trees were tossed about as if they were made of papier mache.

While not short-changing all of the devastation throughout the city – and there was a great deal – there were several cultural institutions and historic sites which were hit by this system.

  • A portion of the roof of Daisy Bates’ home was ripped off. Some of her books and papers were sucked up by the wind and scattered throughout the storm’s path.
  • The Governor’s Mansion sustained damage in addition to losing power and phones.
  • The original Fire Station 2 in MacArthur Park, then still serving as a museum storage facility, lost a portion of its roof and sustained water damage
  • The Arsenal Building, in the process of being prepared to become the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, lost a portion of its roof.  The storm’s impact also set off the sprinkler system in the building causing flooding throughout the interior of the building.
  • The Arkansas Arts Center sustained minor damage. The museum was hosting a reception that night for the opening of an exhibit. Many trees in MacArthur Park fell that evening, including several on cars of patrons present for the party.

It would take months and years for the areas hit by this storm to be rebuilt and recover.

The Museum of Discovery – which would have been impacted by the tornado if it had not relocated to the River Market District two years earlier – has an exhibit which allows persons to relive this night.  Tornado Alley Theater provides a riveting seven-minute experience for museum visitors as they relive the tornado that devastated the Governor’s Mansion district area of downtown Little Rock in January 1999. Hear the stories of people who survived the storm and see TV footage of the event as broadcast on THV 11 that fateful evening.