So Many Museums: Winter is a great time to see what’s inside

So Many Museums: Winter is a great time to see what’s inside


Special to The Free Weekly

In the wake of Arkansas’ mild holiday weather, seriously low temperatures likely lurk as January unfurls. In light of that chilling prospect, some of the Natural State’s less publicized museums offer cozy indoor pleasures when winter winds are whistling.

Admission is free as often as not. Days, hours and rules of visiting can vary as pandemic restrictions persist. It’s a good idea to check the museum’s website or call ahead for the latest details.

Chaffee Barbershop Museum — It was big news on March 24, 1958, when Elvis Presley was inducted into the U.S. Army and had his duck-tail hair cut short. It happened at Fort Chaffee, where a chair in the old military barbershop holds a cardboard silhouette of the 25-year-old rock star and photos of his shearing. Chaffee Crossing,, 452-4554.

Delta Cultural Center — The music of the Arkansas Delta is spotlighted in one of two buildings, where earphones let visitors hear such luminaries as Sonny Boy Williamson II, Louis Jordan, Johnny Cash and Levon Helm. In the other building, a Civil War exhibit features the Battle of Helena, a key Union victory. Helena-West Helena,, 870-338-4350.

The renovated barbershop at Fort Chaffee where Elvis Presley received his famous hair cut includes a chair with a cutout of Presley. It was one of three in the barbershop at the time of his shearing on March 24, 1958. The others were donated by local owners. (File Photos)

Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum — Ernest Hemingway wrote part of “A Farewell to Arms” in the 1930s while living in northeastern Arkansas with his second wife, Pauline Pfeiffer. Memorabilia in the property’s barn, which Pauline turned into his writing studio, includes his typewriter and hunting trophies that the couple shot in Africa. Piggott,, 870-598-3487.

Lum & Abner Museum — In the radio days of the 1930s, Arkansans Chester Lauck and Norris Goff ranked among America’s premier stars of the airwaves. The fictional Jot ’Em Down Store in the Montgomery County hamlet of Pine Ridge is packed with memorabilia and taped recordings of their homespun comedy. Pine Ridge,, 870-326-4442.

Mark Martin Museum — A cavalcade of Mark Martin’s cars blends into the sales and service areas of the racing legend’s auto dealership. They include the 1989 Stroh’s Thunderbird, the No. 5 Kellogg’s car and the No. 6 Viagra Coca-Cola 600 win car. A batch of Martin’s scrapbooks provide a personal survey of his career. Batesville,, 870-793-4461.

Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie — This 20,000-square-foot attraction tells the story of Stuttgart’s settlement begun in 1878 by German pioneers. Vintage farm machinery and a mock-up of Stuttgart’s Main Street around 1900 are featured. The Water Fowl Wing salutes the Grand Prairie’s duck-hunting renown. Stuttgart,, 870-673-7001.

Museum of Native American History — Founded by a registered member of the Cherokee Nation, this exhaustive museum houses more than 10,000 artifacts, mainly of Indigenous North American cultures. Visitors are greeted outdoors by a tepee and indoors by a life-size model of the extinct woolly mammoth. Bentonville,, 273-2456.

Southern Tenant Farmers Museum — Operated by Arkansas State University, this Delta museum tells the highly unlikely story of a racially integrated labor union in the Jim Crow South during the Great Depression. The farmers’ union was also well ahead of its time in admitting women. It had a few years of limited successes. Tyronza,, 870-487-2909.

Sultana Disaster Museum — What this museum calls “The Forgotten Tragedy” is depicted near its watery location. The disaster happened on April 27, 1865, when the steamboat Sultana burned and sank on the Mississippi River while taking Union troops home from Confederate war prisons. It took about 1,800 lives. Marion,, 870-739-6041.

WWII Japanese American Internment Museum — Located in a former rail depot, this museum tells the World War II history of nearby Rohwer and Jerome. At these remote Delta sites, federal internment camps confined 17,000 Japanese-Americans for several years. A heartening note is the manifest resilience of so many internees. McGehee,, 870-222-3168.

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