Historic Arkansas Museum#10 in Best Things To Do in Little Rock
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Unlike other museums that just have artifacts on display, the Historic Arkansas Museum has both exhibits with local artifacts as well as historic buildings. The facility has several antebellum homes that have been restored as well as the Hinderliter Grog Shop, the city's oldest structure that dates back to the 1820s. Other buildings include a cabin where enslaved peoples used to live, a blacksmith shop and a carriage house. Throughout the grounds, you'll be treated to the museum's Living History program, in which actors and actresses portray people who used to live in Arkansas' frontier times and provide demonstrations of different tasks.
Inside the museum center, visitors will find numerous permanent and temporary exhibits. Permanent displays include "We Walk in Two Worlds," which describes the lives of native Caddo, Osage and Quapaw Indian tribes, and the "Knife Gallery," which tells visitors about the history of the bowie knife, which was invented in Arkansas. Temporary exhibits share everything from art to photographs to metallic items.
Museumgoers were particularly fond of the historic grounds, saying that they felt as if they were "walking back in time." They also praised the museum itself for its thoughtful layout.
The Historic Arkansas Museum currently has a limited schedule and offerings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. For the time being, both the grounds and museum are free to the public. There are currently no guided tours of the grounds. Free parking is available on-site, as is a gift shop. The museum is located just south of the River Market district. Visit its website for updated hours and availability.
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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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