A popular travel destination in the United States is the South thanks to its charm, diversity, natural beauty, and much more. While many travelers might immediately think of more popular or larger southern states such as Texas or Florida, there are plenty of other amazing destinations just waiting to be explored. Arkansas is a wonderful example of a state that sometimes gets overlooked by travelers, but is absolutely worth exploring.
Officially made a state in 1836, Arkansas features popular cities such as Little Rock in addition to beautiful highlands, mountain ranges, coastal plains, and more. In addition to the natural wonders of the state, Arkansas is also home to plenty of museums, which welcome visitors to help them learn about local history, culture, art, science, and more.
With so many amazing museums to explore, visitors of all ages are sure to have an amazing time at these five locations in Arkansas!
The Arkansas Railroad Museum
Pine Bluff, Arkansas is home to a wonderful museum that celebrates the history of rail travel and some amazing local locomotives. The Arkansas Railroad Museum began when the Cotton Belt Railroad donated the Steam Engine Locomotive 819 to Pine Bluff in 1955, Unfortunately, the locomotive went on to be vandalized and had many parts stolen, resulting in the movement to repair and restore the locomotive in 1983. At the same time, the Cotton Belt Rail Historical Society was formed and they went on to form The Arkansas Railroad Museum that exists today. Visitors who travel to the location can enjoy browsing exhibits that include memorabilia, items, and signage from the local railroads and the Cotton Belt Route in addition to learning more about the history of rail travel in general. The beautifully restored Steam Engine Locomotive 819 is on display for visitors to the museum to enjoy as well as Steam Engine Locomotive 336 which was originally built in 1909. The Arkansas Railroad Museum is a wonderful location to explore when spending time near Pine Bluff!
Southern Tenant Farmers Museum
Another wonderful museum in Arkansas that helps visitors learn about local history can be found in the town of Tyronza. The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum opened in 2006 and focuses on educating visitors about the farm labor movement, tenant farming, and sharecropping system of agriculture in the south. The building that the museum is housed in was previously used in the 1930s as a business of H. L. Mitchell and Clay East who were two of the organizers of the Southern Tenant Farmers Union. The Southern Tenant Farmers Museum welcomes visitors of all ages to explore exhibits filled with photographs, equipment, artwork, and much more that come together to tell the fascinating story of tenant farming and highlight the individuals who were involved. This wonderful location is a great opportunity to learn more about the history of Arkansas and its agricultural past.
WWII Japanese American Internment Museum
One of the most important moments in history for the entire United States was World War II and one museum in Arkansas honors the war and aims to teach guests more about one certain aspect of it. McGehee, Arkansas is home to the WWII Japanese American Internment Museum which was originally titled the Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center.
Between 1942 and 1945, nearly eight thousand Japanese Americans were interned at the location, however most of the five hundred acre camp has been lost over the years. The museum that currently exists invites visitors to tour what remains of the camp as well as enjoy several exhibits which share more information and history about this critical moment in American history. A popular exhibit that is currently on display shares the artwork of Nancy Chikaraishi whose parents were interned at the camp. Her artwork showcases the struggles of those who were interned at the camp in the 1940s and is a powerful way for visitors to learn more.
Mark Martin Museum
Fans of automobiles and NASCAR racing will love visiting an exciting and popular museum which is found in Batesville, Arkansas. The Mark Martin Museum celebrates the long and interesting history of Mart Martin, one of the most successful and famous racers in NASCAR history. Martin was born in Batesville and has gone on to be one of the most celebrated and decorated drivers in NASCAR history, even being inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2017. The Mark Martin Museum features memorabilia, keepsakes, trophies, and even racecars that help to tell the incredible story of how Martin began his career at the local dirt track and went on to experience such outstanding success. Visitors to the museum can enjoy interactive video monitors, amazing exhibits, and the chance to get up close with some famous racecars before perusing the gift shop filled with genuine autographed merchandise. Fans of Mark Martin and NASCAR in general are sure to love spending time at this free and incredible museum which celebrates an amazing career as well as a popular sport.
Clinton House Museum
Two of the most famous individuals to come from Arkansas are Bill and Hilary Clinton and travelers who explore the state can visit a wonderful museum that shares some of the rich history of this political family. The Clinton House Museum can be found in Fayetteville, Arkansas and at first glance appears to be a normal and charming house that fits in quite well in the beautiful neighborhood. Once inside, visitors will learn about the charming history of the home that began with the Clintons purchasing the property in 1975 and being married in the living room in October of the same year.
The Clintons began their married life in the location, however they moved to Little Rock in 1976 for Bill to take office as the Attorney General of Arkansas. Despite the move, the Clintons owned the home until 1983 and those who visit today can learn about both the couple and the history of the home through memorabilia, campaign ads and artwork, artifacts, and much more. The Clinton House Museum is a wonderful location in Arkansas to explore to learn more about some of the great individuals who call the state home!