‘Fifty From Fifty’

‘Fifty From Fifty’

Shiloh Museum showcases pieces of past


Carolyn Reno has had a uniquely fortunate position with the Shiloh Museum for 34 years of its 50-year history. She is the one who knows its collections most intimately.

Courtesy Photo
Block-gear pattern made by the Becker Machine Shop, Springdale, about 1935. J.W.G. Becker had a machine shop on Monitor Road where he offered ornamental iron work, pattern making and repair service for all kinds of engines, pumps and mills. — Margaret Lester and Mary King collection

“When I got to the museum [in February 1984], the collections were nicely organized on open shelves so it was easy to see a lot of them,” Reno recalls. “We started an inventory soon after I arrived, so I got to see a lot of the collections through that process. I had to pack up the collections when we moved out of the old museum building so the current building could be constructed. That was about 1989. I trained volunteers how to pack the collections and again, got to see all of them as they got boxed up.”

So when the museum was preparing to celebrate its 50th birthday in 2018, Reno wanted to put her expertise to good use.

“I suggested that we do an exhibit featuring 50 objects, one from each year between 1968 and 2018,” she explains. “The selection process involved me looking back through each year to find historic, unique or compelling objects that would represent the scope of the collection and the scope of the museum’s field of interest — Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas Ozarks.

“There were few donations in the early years, so selection was fairly easy. It wasn’t so easy in later years because of greater number of donations. That took a while. I also thought about what the public might enjoy seeing. It was tough work to make the selections. I could have done a 100 things and more, but we don’t have the space at this time due to ongoing renovations.”

What Reno chose truly includes something for everyone, she thinks.

Courtesy Photo
Graflex camera, early 1900s. Popular with newspaper and fine-art photographers, the Graflex was the go-to camera of its time. — Bruce Vaughan collection

“One piece that will delight some folks is the big enamel Chevrolet sign from the Mooney-Barker Drug Store in Pettigrew. Car enthusiasts and sign lovers will appreciate it,” she says. “There is also a beautiful handmade saddle made for Fred Grigg Sr. by W.E. Lamb of Green Forest (Carroll County) in 1918. The one surprising artifact is an architectural remnant from another era: the White Waiting door from the old Frisco Railroad Depot in Springdale. The depot was torn down in the early 1980s. The door could have been thrown away in the demolition but it was donated to the museum. This is the first time it is being exhibited.”

The exhibit also includes folklorist Vance Randolph’s derringer pistol, a handmade wooden crutch from Newton County and a Princess Feather applique quilt from the Blackburn family at War Eagle. But one piece has special meaning to Reno. It’s something that captured her heart all those years ago.

“One of the first pieces that got my attention was a little textile piece, a Victorian wall pocket. It was handmade in a horseshoe shape with the tiniest pocket for storing I don’t know what. It’s more decorative than useful,” she says. “Besides that, it was always the textile items that I liked. Just my personal interest. I have since come to enjoy all kinds of things for different reasons – how they are made, what they are made of, iterations over the years.

“I will confess that the wall pocket made it into the exhibit. But legitimately so.”

Titled “Fifty From Fifty,” the exhibit will be on display through Jan. 12, 2019.




Courtesy Photo
Pitcher from the Jeff D. Brown poultry company, Springdale, mid-1950s. Jeff Brown was the “father of the broiler industry” in Northwest Arkansas. — Martha Belle Brogdon collection

‘Fifty From Fifty’

WHEN — Through Jan. 12, 2019; hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday

WHERE — Shiloh Museum of Ozark History in Springdale

COST — Free

INFO — 750-8165


Shiloh Museum

Selected Moments


Guy Howard, former Springdale city attorney, mayor, and judge, sells his collection of some 10,000 Native American artifacts to the city of Springdale for $15,000. The City Council and mayor accept the collection to start a museum.


The city hires Linda Allen as curator on a part-time basis.


On Sept. 7 the Shiloh Museum opens to the public in the upstairs of the old library building at the corner of Main and Johnson.


Mary Parsons comes to the museum as a volunteer and begins to organize the photograph collection, which will eventually become the largest historic image collection in the state.


The museum obtains the entire old city library building.


Bob Besom is hired as the museum’s first full-time director.


In January the old museum building is closed.


The new museum building opens on Sept. 15.

Courtesy Photo
Handmade crutch from Newton County, c. 1950. Scott Price and his sons, Daryl and Duane, were on a canoeing trip on the Buffalo River and somewhere between Ponca and Pruitt they found this crutch outside an old cabin. — Scott Price collection


The museum celebrates its silver anniversary with an exhibit on Guy Howard’s life and changes its name to the “Shiloh Museum of Ozark History” to more clearly define its scope.


New Era Lodge No. 36 of the Independent Order of Odd Fellows donates their two-story, 1871 lodge building to the museum.

Bob Besom retires after 25 years as director; Allyn Lord succeeds him.


A complete exhibit hall renovation, to be finished by the museum’s 50th anniversary in 2018, is marked by the opening of the new “Settling the Ozarks” (1820-1860) exhibit, including bilingual (English and Spanish) interpretation.


The second renovated core exhibit, covering the Civil War through the World War I period, opens.

The historic 1871 Shiloh Meeting Hall becomes the focus of a $1 million renovation campaign.


The third renovated exhibit, covering the 1920-1950 period, opens.

The museum is recognized as one of the “Top Ten Things to Do in Arkansas” by Southern Living magazine.


Shiloh Meeting Hall’s interior renovation is completed and property improvement designs finalized, partly with help from a Walton Family Foundation grant of $255,673.

The fourth renovated exhibit, covering the 1950-to-the-present period, opens.

The museum is recognized as one of the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette’s “Top Ten Stories of 2017” in arts and culture.


The museum begins its 50th year.

Categories: Family Friendly