Summer is a great time for the whole family to get together and get out of the house. There are all sorts of fun things to do in Arkansas this summer, but let’s take a look at a list of our state’s museums that you and your family should consider visiting. From the house of a world-famous author to a Star Wars fan’s paradise to gorgeous art galleries, there’s a fascinating variety of museums to explore no matter where you are in Arkansas.
Scott Family Amazeum (Bentonville)
Offering a wide variety of hands-on activities for children of all ages to enjoy, the Scott Family Amazeum is the first of three top-class Bentonville museums featured on this list. With 50,000 square feet to explore, including an expansive outdoor play area, you can easily spend the whole day enjoying the wide variety of wonders this museum has to offer.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (Bentonville)
Possibly the most well-regarded museum in the state, Crystal Bridges is synonymous with art and culture in Arkansas. The museum boasts a permanent collection worth half a billion dollars, and constantly features new temporary exhibits. And on top of all the spectacular art, entry to the museum is always free, making Crystal Bridges well worthy of repeated visits.
Mid-America Science Museum (Hot Springs)
A hub of scientific wonders located in Hot Springs, the Mid-America Science Museum is a great place to bring your family, particularly if you have younger children. Its newest feature, a Dino-Trek hike, features statues of dinosaurs dispersed throughout the museum’s 21-acre property. This is just one example of several high-quality museums found throughout Hot Springs.
The Gangster Museum of America (Hot Springs)
Take a deep dive into Hot Springs’ colorful past with an hour-long, guided tour through the Gangster Museum of America. Appropriate for all ages, the Gangster Museum features seven distinct galleries, each highlighting a unique aspect of gangster life in Hot Springs, including a gallery dedicated to notorious gangster Al Capone and his business dealings in town.
Museum of Discovery (Little Rock)
A Little Rock classic, the Museum of Discovery has been around since 1927 and was recently voted as the sixth-best children’s museum in the United States via a poll in USA Today. With a little something for everyone, from scientific wonders to historical marvels, you can never go wrong with a visit to the Museum of Discovery. (The museum is temporarily closed, but is scheduled to reopen sometime this summer.)
Museum of Native American History (Bentonville)
Topping off the trifecta of Bentonville museums is the Museum of Native American History. Here you can get a glimpse of ancient Arkansan history and learn about how society functioned in a pre-colonial America. The museum features artifacts that are thousands of years old, and best of all, entry is free, so if you have the time, pay this museum a visit.
Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum (Piggott)
The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum was once home to Pauline Pfeiffer and her husband, Ernest Hemingway, the author of many books including The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms. A large section of the museum is dedicated to Hemingway and his works, while the rest focuses on the Pfeiffer family and their contributions to the development of Northeast Arkansas. Definitely worth a visit for any lover of literature.
Wings of Honor Museum (Walnut Ridge)
The Wings of Honor Museum is built on the site of the Walnut Ridge Army Flying School, and offers visitors a chance to witness Arkansas’s contributions to World War II. With several old “warbird” bombers on display, along with a plethora of WWII-era weapons and equipment from back in the school’s operating days, lovers of WWII history will find this museum to be well worth the visit.
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MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History (Little Rock)
Named after one of the nation’s foremost war heroes, the MacArthur Museum covers not only the life and legacy of General Douglas MacArthur, but also how Arkansas veterans viewed many of America’s major wars. There is also a section on the second floor about Arkansas women in the military. Definitely a must-visit for any military history buff, or really anyone who wants to learn more about one of Arkansas’ most notable residents.
Little Rock Central High School Historic Site (Little Rock)
The site of one of the most important events in Arkansas history, a visit to Central High School is a sobering reminder of how far this country has come in such a short period of time. While Central is still an active high school, visitors can tour the exterior themselves or enjoy a guided tour of the interior. Summer is the perfect time to visit this museum and enjoy the quiet beauty of the stalwart school building, free of the hustle and bustle of hundreds of students.
Arkansas Air and Military Museum (Fayetteville)
A genuinely cool opportunity to explore planes of all shapes and sizes, if you’re in Fayetteville, and you have ten dollars, you should drop by the Air Museum and explore the wide variety of airplanes spread across three different buildings. You can even go inside and explore some of the larger ones, making this a must-visit if you have any kids (or adults!) who are big airplane fans.
Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum (North Little Rock)
A visit to a submarine may seem daunting for the more claustrophobic guests, but the Maritime Museum offers plenty of activities topside in case you don’t wish to climb the 14-foot ladder down into the 90 percent operational WWII era submarine, the USS Razorback. Besides the authentic submarine experience, the museum features the Hoga tugboat, renowned for its efforts in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, and a brief history of naval travel on the Arkansas River.
Japanese American Internment Museum (McGehee)
A small and lesser-known museum, this is still a definite must-visit. This museum offers a look at the awful treatment 15,000 Japanese-Arkansans suffered during World War II, but more importantly, acts as a testament to their strength and adaptability in the face of discrimination and paranoia. A two-hour drive from Little Rock to the southeast of Arkansas, it’s definitely worth taking a day to go and learn about a little-known chapter in American history.
The Galaxy Connection (Hot Springs)
A bit of an unconventional museum, the Galaxy Connection is paradise for any Star Wars/superhero fan. Collected and curated by fans, for fans, the museum offers a regular and VIP tour. The VIP tour is 60 minutes as opposed to 30, and allows fans to get photo ops with the memorabilia on display, including lightsabers, laser rifles and statues of characters. VIP guests also get an exclusive mini-poster to commemorate their visit. Fans of all ages will love this museum!
Museum of the Arkansas Grand Prairie (Stuttgart)
A love letter to agriculture and wildlife in Arkansas, this unique museum boasts an extensive collection of duck calls, old farming equipment, and a lifesize replica of a 19th-century German Lutheran church. Lovers of nature, hunters, anyone who appreciates the natural beauty of our great state will find something to enjoy at this museum.
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