Esse Purse Museum#13 in Best Things To Do in Little Rock
Price & Hours
This museum wins top marks from travelers for its intriguing exhibits and extensive collection of handbags despite the museum's small footprint. At the Esse Purse Museum, visitors can explore the evolution of purses throughout the 20th century along with the ever-changing nature of what women carried inside their bags. The exhibit also explores the women's rights movement and how women's position in society changed throughout history. In addition to this permanent exhibit, Esse puts on temporary displays that it changes about four times per year. Past exhibits have detailed wedding dress designs, historical objects associated with the Girl Scouts, hats and the style of the 1970s. There is also an on-site store where visitors can purchase handbags, accessories and souvenirs.
The Esse Purse Museum is currently operating on a limited schedule due to COVID-19. It is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and is open by appointment only Sunday and Monday. Tickets cost $10 per person and $8 for students, seniors and members of the military. Children age 6 and younger visit for free. The museum is located downtown and is a 5-minute walk south of Rock Town Distillery. To learn more about the museum, or shop its purse selection online, visit its website.
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#1 Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site
In 1957, nine Black students enrolled at Little Rock Central High School. The school had been all-white since its construction in 1927. Minnijean Brown, Elizabeth Eckford, Ernest Green, Thelma Mothershed, Melba Pattillo, Gloria Ray, Terrence Roberts, Jefferson Thomas and Carlotta Wells were the first Black students at the school following the 1954 Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education, which ruled that school segregation was unconstitutional. The day the students went to school, they were met with a racist mob of white students as well as about 270 soldiers who barred the entrance to the high school. It took almost two weeks before the Little Rock Nine were able to access the building. Though they were able to enter the school, they faced physical and verbal abuse throughout their high school careers. The Little Rock Nine's historic and brave acts helped to spur the civil rights movement and brought national attention to the U.S.'s racist practices.
Today, Little Rock Central High School is a National Historic Site and is still a working high school. The associated visitor center sits kitty-corner to the school and features exhibits about the desegregation crisis as well as a book store. There is also a Commemorative Garden. Tours of the exterior and interior of Little Rock Central High School are also available, but must be reserved in advance through the National Park Service.
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