Delta Cultural Center
Delta Cultural Center in historic downtown Helena is a museum dedicated to the heritage of the Arkansas Delta. The Arkansas Delta region
is steeped in rich sights, sounds, people and events. The museum preserves, interprets and presents the cultural heritage of this legendary
27-county region through exhibits, educational programs, annual events, and guided tours.
Delta Cultural Center is comprised of two museum locations—the Depot and the Visitors Center. The Depot features an exhibit which details the history of the Delta from its earliest inhabitants, into early settlement, through great Mississippi River floods. On the upper floor of the Depot, Civil War in the Delta gives visitors insight into Union occupation and the Battle of Helena. The Visitors Center, located one block north of the Depot, features a music exhibit, a live radio studio, changing exhibit space, and the Museum Store.
Blues fans from around the world visit the museum to catch live weekday broadcasts of the Peabody-winning “King Biscuit Time,” the nation’s longest-running blues radio program, founded in 1941 on Helena radio station KFFA. Current disc jockey “Sunshine” Sonny Payne has been associated with the show since 1951. The half-hour show is broadcast from a special studio inside the Visitor’s Center at 12:15 p.m. Mondays through Fridays.
Delta Sounds is the theme of the Visitor’s Center permanent exhibit and the focus of a half-hour radio show on KFFA every Friday. It’s a look at the variety of musicians and musical genres of the Arkansas Delta, from Johnny Cash, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Conway Twitty and Levon Helm to Al Green, Charlie Rich, Albert King, and Robert Lockwood Jr., from blues, gospel and rockabilly, to country, jazz, and rock’n’roll. Three other galleries feature a variety of heritage themes and a large collection of fine arts.
Delta Cultural Center sponsors a number of yearly music festivals in Helena, and admission is free. The annual Arkansas Delta Family Gospel Festival in May presents national, regional, and local gospel performers representing a diversity of musical sounds and performance styles. Mother’s Best Music Fest, named for a 1940s radio show on station KFFA that featured musical innovators from throughout the Delta region, offers a unique take on the variety of music produced throughout the Delta.
Other DCC properties include the Fort Curtis replica on Columbia Street, the Civil War era Moore-Horner house and the Beth El Heritage Hall.