Old State House Museum
The oldest surviving state Capitol west of the Mississippi, the Old State House Museum bears testimony to Arkansas’s political history.
Over its lifetime, this National Historic Landmark has experienced as much turbulence as the history it chronicles. It began as the
elegant Greek Revival-style seat of state government in 1836, underwent a period of neglect and decline after the legislature moved
to the new Capitol in the early 20th century, found a new identity as the first home of the University of Arkansas School of Medicine,
gained world fame as the setting for native son Bill Clinton to announce his candidacy for and then accept the presidency of the United
States in the 1990s, and today thrives as a multimedia museum of Arkansas state history.
The museum is nationally recognized for its collections of Civil War battle flags, inaugural gowns of governor’s wives, original drawings by architect Charles L. Thompson, Arkansas pottery and art, quilts by black Arkansans and artifacts from the heritage of Arkansas music. Its many exhibitions draw local and out-of-town visitors who learn about early law-making as it occurred in the 1836 House of Representatives Chamber, the legacy of Arkansas women, period furniture and decorative styles, the architecture of the building, and the state’s most important political people and events of the 19th and 20th century.
Education is an important focus of the Old State House Museum. The museum provides outreach programs such as teacher workshops, youth programs, loan boxes, bringing history to the classroom. On-site programs such as museum tours, living history demonstrations and special events help make Arkansas history come alive for visitors of all ages.
The Old State House utilizes the latest technology and hosts an impressive online eMuseum featuring hundreds of photographs and information on items from over 40 different collections. The museum began collecting artifacts of Arkansas history in the 1950s. Since then staff members and volunteers have worked to describe and find background information on artifacts in the collection. The website also features a number of audio and video podcasts covering a variety of topics related to Arkansas history. The Collections Blog highlights the museum’s collection, often showcasing new additions.