A Letter From Our Director

History played out again 105 years later at the Old State House Museum on June 30, 2014, when the Arkansas House of Representatives convened a special session at the Old State House Museum. The last time the House of Representatives formally convened at the Old State House was in 1909, as Arkansas entered the Progressive Era. The 37th General Assembly passed laws to prevent lynching, to provide artificial limbs to former Confederate soldiers and sailors, and to create the agricultural colleges that are now Arkansas State University, Arkansas Tech, Southern Arkansas University, and the University of Arkansas at Monticello. At the urging of Governor George Donaghey, the 1909 legislature proposed a constitutional amendment that established initiative and referendum; the voters of Arkansas ratified the amendment in 1910.

More than a century later, the return of Arkansas legislators to the Old State House for the sake of lawmaking served as a powerful reminder of the original purpose of this beautiful old building, and it underscored the Museum’s mission to preserve the Old State House, to interpret Arkansas history from 1836 to the present, and to collect and interpret artifacts that aid in that interpretation and preservation.

The Old State House Museum is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. AAM accreditation is the highest national recognition possible for a museum. Only 3% of the 35,000 museums in the United States are accredited. Accreditation assures our audience, peers, and stakeholders that the Museum is, in the words of the Accreditation Committee, “a good steward of its resources held in the public trust and committed to a philosophy of continual institutional growth.” To persevere in our stewardship of Arkansas’s most important historical artifacts (including the building itself ) and in the growth that allows us to offer Arkansas history to more and more people, the Old State House Museum needs the continued involvement and support of you, our stakeholders.

This accreditation process speaks to the job we do in preserving history for our future generations, too. It is just those future citizens that we strive to reach through our School Bus Fund, supported by our two friends groups — Old State House Museum 1836 Club and Old State House Museum Associates — and other donors.

The School Bus Fund offers grants of up to $750 to schools statewide to cover the cost of transportation to and from the Old State House Museum. For information about the School Bus Fund, please visit schoolbusfund.com; contributions to the School Bus Fund can be made online by clicking here. Fiscal 2016 was another year of remarkable fiscal stability at the Old State House Museum. Arkansas’s 1/8-cent conservation sales tax and the Arkansas Natural and Cultural Resources Grant remain vital to the Museum’s ability to carry out its mission. Funds from these sources allowed the Museum to collect artifacts, to install new exhibits, and to carry out major improvements to several key public spaces within the Old State House. The willing and ongoing support of the people of Arkansas allows us to preserve the Old State House and to continue to educate the public about the history of this great state. On behalf of the Old State House Commission and the staff of the Old State House Museum, thank you.

Bill Gatewood, Director