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  • In 1937, the Museum of Fine Arts opened in MacArthur Park. Franklin Delano Roosevelt approved $25,000 from the WPA for construction of the 10,140 square foot building. FDR wrote a letter of congratulations to the citizens of Little Rock to be read at the opening.

  •  In 1959, the Fine Arts Club, the Junior League of Little Rock, and the Museum of Fine Arts joined forces to raise funds for an arts center that would include a theater, art school, museum and dance.
  • Winthrop Rockefeller was enlisted to help raise funds for the new building. 

  • Rockefeller insisted the institution be called the ARKANSAS Arts Center and serve the entire state. Funds were raised statewide—from businesses and banks to children with nickels and dimes in jars.
  • The Rockefeller brothers funded the Arkansas Arts Center Artmobile, based on the one at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, to bring real art experiences to people throughout the state.

  • In 1961 came the groundbreaking on a new building. 

  • On May 16, 1963, the grand opening of a new Arkansas Arts Center featured an exhibition of 62 European Masterworks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and celebrities such as Joan Fontaine and Charles Adams dancing to the music of Dave Bruebeck.

AAC Historical Narrative

Click here to download "One of the Greatest Success Stories in Arkansas": Sketching the History of the Arkansas Arts Center

July 2007

Master of Arts in Public History, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Stephanie Bayless, Daniel Benton, Teresa Lauderdale, Jennifer McCarty, Jamie Metrailer, Sara Thompson

Dean Deborah Baldwin


Business Hours: Mon – Fri 9 AM - 5 PM    Address: 2510 Cantrell Rd., P.O. Box 2137, Little Rock, Arkansas 72203-2137    Phone: 501.372.4000

Arkansas Arts Center programs are supported in part by: Arkansas Arts Center Foundation; City of Little Rock; City of North Little Rock; Little Rock Convention and Visitors Bureau;
and the Arkansas Arts Council, a division of Arkansas Heritage, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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