How does a museum represent its community’s culture and identity?
Led by a group of intrepid women, the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts traces its history back to the 1914 formation of Little Rock’s Fine Arts Club.
Built by the Works Progress Administration, the original Museum opened right here in MacArthur Park in 1937 with the goal of enriching Arkansas through art. While the original Museum of Fine Arts has grown in such immense ways, the heart of their enduring mission still beats.
In 1959, working alongside the Museum’s Fine Arts Club, Little Rock Junior League, the city of Little Rock, and the future Governor and First Lady Winthrop and Jeannette Rockefeller, the Museum raised funds to establish the Arkansas Art Center — a statewide organization that featured a theater, studio classrooms, and expanded galleries.
In 2016, after several building additions over the decades, a mission of reimagining the Arkansas Arts Center for the twenty first century was undertaken.
With the Museum’s stakeholders and leadership working alongside creative partners at Studio Gang Architects and SCAPE landscape architecture to redesign the Museum inside and out.
Today, the new architecture propels into the contemporary, uniting the Museum under an innovative, folded-plate or “blossoming” roof.
Built of cast-in-place concrete, the iconic design spans the length of the building.
Studio Gang’s thoughtful interior design creates a 133,000- square-foot Museum that embraces the surrounding city and park and establishes a bold new architectural identity for the Museum while SCAPE’s work complements the new building with an 11-acre landscape design highlighting Arkansas' renowned biodiversity through walking paths, outdoor sculptures, and native plantings.
All of this was accomplished on the very ground where the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts began — Little Rock’s MacArthur Park — allowing the Museum to remain both in the heart of the city and its people.
Welcome to the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts.