Delve into history, fire up your curiosity, explore creative works of art! You can do it all – and more – in the museums in Little Rock, Arkansas. Whether you’re a history buff, a budding scientist, or an art enthusiast, Little Rock’s museums have plenty to keep you engaged. Interested in presidential legacies and Civil Rights landmarks? Little Rock has you covered, too. A fan of the quirky and offbeat? Yeah, you’ll find that here as well.

When you’re ready for your Little Rock museum adventure, here are 10 amazing choices that provide a memorable journey through time, science, and culture.

(We can’t pick a favorite so these are in alphabetical order)

Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum

While Arkansas may not be often associated with maritime activities, the presence of the USS Razorback submarine and the historic tugboat USS Hoga, highlights a lesser-known aspect of the state’s heritage. These WWII-era vessels serve as reminders of Arkansas’ contributions to maritime operations.

The USS Razorback is the world’s longest-serving combat front-line submarine, being commissioned in April 1944 during World War II. Since its official return to North Little Rock in June 2004, the Razorback has welcomed thousands of tourists wanting to experience the sights, sounds, and even scents of submarine service. You can climb the 14-foot ladder into the submarine where you will be transported back in time, learning about the everyday lives and operations of submariners. 

The USS Hoga, a tugboat listed as a National Historic Landmark, played an important role in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The Hoga, known for pushing the USS Nevada out of harm’s way during the bombing, is one of only three warships from the attack to be preserved as a museum ship. Visitors can take self-guided walk-through tours of the Hoga.

Details: 120 Riverfront Park Drive, Little Rock | Official Website

Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts

A wide variety of artistic expression is represented at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts (AMFA). This recently renovated art museum boasts a stunning design that blends historic elements with modern architecture. The permanent collection features overs 14,000 pieces that span centuries and include American, European, and contemporary art, represented in paintings, sculptures, photography, and decorative arts. You’ll find Picasso and Rembrandt represented, right along with new works from artists from indigenous communities.

AMFA also offers a range of visual, performing arts, and educational programs, providing a platform for the Little Rock community to engage with diverse artistic perspectives. 

Details: 501 East 9th Street, Little Rock | Official Website

Arkansas National Guard Museum

The Arkansas National Guard Museum takes visitors on a journey through the state’s military history. Established in 1917, this military museum explores the Arkansas National Guard’s important role in defending the nation, supporting overseas missions, and providing assistance during times of crisis.

The museum is housed in Lloyd England Hall, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, on the grounds of Camp Joseph T. Robinson. On display is a collection of artifacts, from Civil War muskets to modern weapons, telling a story through military eyes. The museum also covers the evolution of Camp Pike (as it was formerly known) to Camp Robinson (named for a former governor of the state), and from training grounds to a vital military base.

Details: Camp Robinson, 6th St & Missouri Ave, North Little Rock | Official Website

ESSE Purse Museum & Store

Forget stuffy displays of dusty artifacts – the ESSE Purse Museum in Little Rock provides a fashionable look at history along with social commentary. It’s a celebration of the history of the women, told through the lens of their handbags. An intersection of art, history, and femininity.

The museum showcases a collection of purses from the 20th century, displayed by decade. It’s a veritable time capsule reflecting the evolving styles, social roles, and everyday realities of American women. Interspersed among the bags are random keepsakes – photos, cigarette cases, jewelry, an 8-track cassette – to serve as reminder of the what was going on during that decade. 

You’ll see dainty clutch purses from the roaring twenties, utilitarian satchels from the war years, and lots of fringe from the sixties. Perhaps you’ll spot a bag or two that you owned. Delve beyond fashion trends and discover the stories these purses hold. Museum founder Anita Davis has assembled an amazing collection.

The museum gift shop was almost as fascinating as the museum, with a selection of purses, jewelry, scarves, books, and other handmade items

Details: 1510 S Main St, Little Rock | Official Website

Firehouse Hostel & Museum of Arkansas

For a blend of history and hospitality, head to the Firehouse Hostel & Museum of Arkansas. Housed in beautifully restored Little Rock Fire Station No. 2, located on Commerce Street in MacArthur Park. The museum offers a glimpse into firefighting heritage with a collection of firefighting memorabilia. You’ll get a look at firefighting equipment and learn more through learn more through the photographs and stories of Little Rock firefighters. 

And you can stay there, too. Note: You do not need to stay to view the museum displays.

Details: 1201 Commerce St, Little Rock | Official Website

Historic Arkansas Museum

Immerse yourself in the rich tapestry of Arkansas’s past at the Historic Arkansas Museum (HAM). Often nicknamed “HAM,” this sprawling complex in downtown Little Rock, highlights the state’s cultural heritage, from pioneer days to the present. HAM’s diverse collection encompasses Victorian fashion, household innovations, and the changing cultural scene of the 19th and 20th centuries. You’ll see everything from everyday objects used by families to fascinating archaeological finds. 

A particularly poignant feature is the “Giving Voice” memorial, honoring the individuals enslaved by landowners in the 19th century. Additionally, the museum’s exhibits often highlight African American history and local artists with African American heritage.

Details: 200 E 3rd St, Little Rock | Official Website

MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History

The MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History is located within the historic Arsenal Building, a National Historic Landmark dating back to 1840. The Arsenal Building, one of Little Rock’s oldest surviving structures, has witnessed important events in Arkansas history, ranging from its role in protecting the frontier state during conflicts with Native Americans to its involvement in battles during the Civil War.

Little Rock was the birthplace of General Douglas MacArthur, and the museum for him honors brave men and women who served their country. Exhibits in the museum include a wide variety of artifacts, photographs, weaponry, documents, uniforms, and other military items. 

Details: 503 E 9th St, Little Rock | Official Website

​Museum of Discovery

The Museum of Discovery is Arkansas’s leading science center, and focuses on science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEM) education through interactive exhibits. The museum is one of America’s best museums for children, with 25,000 square feet of interactive exhibits and programs designed to spark interest and stimulate learning.

Visitors can explore 90 hands-on exhibits that span a range of scientific topics and principles. Experience the excitement of a tornado in the Tornado Alley Theater, learn about the wonders of physics on a bed of nails, unleash your creativity in the PPG STEAM Studio, and meet creatures from all around the world.

One of the museum’s most interesting attractions is the Guinness World Record musical bi-polar Tesla coil, which generates 200,000 volts of electricity and provides a thrilling experience for visitors.

Details: 500 President Clinton Ave, Ste 150, Little Rock | Official Website

Old State House Museum

The Old State House Museum is significant in Arkansas history since it is the state’s original capitol building and the oldest standing capitol west of the Mississippi River. The Old State House Museum serves as a reminder of Arkansas’ rich history, allowing visitors to explore its exhibits and attend various events held within its historic walls and grounds.

Inside, visitors can learn about Arkansas’s history through engaging exhibits that showcase the state’s political, social, and cultural evolution. Permanent exhibits like “Pillars of Power” provide insights into the history of the Old State House itself, while “Arkansas’s First Families” offers a glimpse into the lives of Arkansas First Ladies through their gowns. Additionally, visitors can step back in time as they explore the restored House of Representatives chambers from 1836 and 1885.

Details: 300 W Markham St, Little Rock | Official Website

William J. Clinton Presidential Library & Museum

The Clinton Presidential Library, officially known as the William J. Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, is dedicated to preserving the legacy of the 42nd President of the United States, Bill Clinton, and his administration. It is a multifunctional institution that houses the Clinton Foundation offices, the Clinton Presidential Library and Museum, and the Clinton School of Public Service, and is part of the  National Archives and Records Administration’s Presidential Library system.

The library’s design is resembles a bridge to signify Clinton’s theme of “building bridges to the 21st century.” The interior is reminiscent of the Long Room at Trinity College in Dublin. One of the highlights of the museum is a full-scale replica of the Oval Office during President Clinton’s tenure. Visitors can get a sense of what it was like for the President to work in the most famous room in the White House.

If you’re a fan of visiting Presidential libraries, you can pick up a library passport for a nominal fee and get a stamp when you visit every Presidential Library.

Details: 1200 President Clinton Avenue, Little Rock | Official Website

Where to Stay in Little Rock

I stayed in Downtown Little Rock , at the Little Rock Marriott, right next to the Convention Center. It was a solid business hotel with easy access for convention functions.

While Little Rock in general is not easily walkable, there are neighborhoods that are. If you want to venture outside of downtown, you’ll need a car as public transportation will not be sufficient to see everything the city has to offer.


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