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New exhibit takes visitors 'Down the Rabbit Hole'

Old State House Museum - Monday, August 31, 2020

Searching for sports in the Old State House Museum’s eMuseum collection brings up centuries worth of treasures: a book called “Wild Sports in the Far West” from 1859, a set of bowling pins from 1905 to 1910 and a baseball autographed by former Major League baseball player Travis Wood from 2017 – to name just a few.

More than 35,000 items are currently available on eMuseum (and more are added daily), so it’s easy to get caught up exploring everything from sports to politics and beyond. This is exactly what inspired the Old State House Museum’s newest exhibit, “Down the Rabbit Hole: Adventures in eMuseum.”

“Using the eMuseum is like going down the rabbit hole – once you get started, you can spend hours exploring our collection,” said Jo Ellen Maack, curator.

So, the Old State House Museum team created an exhibit designed to highlight items from the collection that either have never been featured in an exhibit or have rarely been shown in the museum.

Baseball memorabilia, including the autographed baseball, is featured among the eclectic array of items that the team has assembled for the exhibit. Four-time Major League Baseball All Star and Cy Young Award winning-pitcher Cliff Lee recently donated several items, including a jersey worn while pitching for the Cleveland Indians, a baseball autographed by the entire Philadelphia Phillies 2009 National League Championship team and baseball cap worn while playing for the Phillies in the 2009 World Series.

Another championship-related item in the exhibit is the soap box derby car that Magnolia native Wally Waits raced in the 1960 Arkansas State Soap Box Derby. Waits won the state championship with the car and then finished in eighth place in it at the National Soap Box Derby Championship in Akron, Ohio.

In addition to these more recent items, the exhibit includes items dating back to the 19th and early 20th centuries, like a bootlegger’s case with two flasks, a souvenir walnut with images from the 1904 World’s Fair and a sterling silver chatelaine from 1887.

“Down the Rabbit Hole: Adventures in eMuseum” opens to the public Friday, Sept. 11. The museum is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. In lieu of an opening reception, the museum will host a virtual visit on its Facebook page and website at 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 10.

“We hope people will enjoy exploring the exhibit in person and learning more about the items in the exhibit during our virtual visit,” Bill Gatewood, museum director, said. “This exhibit showcases many different aspects of Arkansas history.”