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Culture of Arkansas

The arts have been an important part of the history and culture of Arkansas from the very beginning. Arkansas's first inhabitants, the Quapaw, Caddo and Osage tribes, made jewelry and pots to express themselves and enhance their daily life. Down through today, Arkansas artists are being encouraged in their endeavors with grants and programs through the Arkansas Arts Council, while Department of Arkansas Heritage museums dedicate galleries and exhibits to showcasing Arkansas visual arts in all its many forms.

Support for the Arts

The Department of Arkansas Heritage supports the arts in many ways. The Arkansas Arts Council offers grants for artists and arts organizations and the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program sponsors walking tours highlighting the architectural arts.

The Visual Arts

Each Department of Arkansas Heritage collects pieces of Arkansas art and has items from their collections on display in their galleries on a changing basis. The Arkansas Arts Council sponsors the Small Works on Paper exhibit, which travels to cities throughout the state. Historic Arkansas Museum has a gallery that offers space for shows of several contemporary Arkansas artists each year. The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center focuses on collecting the art of African-Americans from Arkansas.

Performing Arts

Experience the performing arts throughout the year at a variety of special events and programs at Arkansas museums. You might encounter a fiddler or square dancer at Historic Arkansas Museum. Or a concert on the lawn at the Old State House Museum. The auditorium on the third floor of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center offers a beautiful venue for a performer or group. The Arkansas Arts Council’s Arts on Tour program is a roster of performers available for touring throughout Arkansas. Organizations who hire one of the Arts on Tour groups are eligible to apply for fee support of the cost of the performers. Check out the list of performers and the program at Arts on Tour.

Folk Arts

The folk arts are an important part of Arkansas culture and heritage. Folk arts such as basket-making, weaving and carving were ways for early settlers to express themselves while making things that served a needed function. Each year the Arkansas Arts Council names a State Living Treasure who is a master of a traditional craft. Past nominees have included blade smiths, fiddler makers, wood carvers, and basket makers. To learn how to make a nomination, go to Arkansas Living Treasure.


Are you doing family research and your family has roots in Arkansas? The agency that can help you access records from the past is the official state archives, the Arkansas History Commission. This state agency has people who can help you locate the materials you may need, and you can have access to these materials in the Research Room of the History Commission. To learn more about what they offer the family researcher, go to Ark-Ives.com.