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The following is a list of museums within 35 miles of downtown Pine Bluff.
I advise calling for hours, since some of the museums are open seasonally and/or have limited hours. Also, museums open and close. Just because you see it listed here doesn't mean it's still in business.
Arkansas Entertainers Hall of Fame, Pine Bluff, One Convention Center Plaza, 1-800-536-7660. Pictures, stories and memorabilia concerning famous entertainers from Arkansas. An animatronic statue of Johnny Cash plays five songs at the push of a button. Other stars highlighted include Mary Steenburgen, Gil Gerard (TV's Buck Rogers), Jerry Van Dyke (He's from Illinois, but he married an Arkie and lives around Benton somewhere), country singers galore, Lum and Abner, Levon Helm, Harry Thomason, Billy Bob Thornton and so on and so on. Last visited 3/23/99.
Arkansas Railroad Museum, Pine Bluff, Hwy 65B, 870-536-7600. Once a machine shop for building, maintaining and servicing locomotives, now its a museum that houses some of the very machines it built. Not only that, the old-timer guiding the tour might have actually built some of the exhibits. They'll accept donations of your old crankcase oil. They use it for fuel for their oil-burning locomotive, the 819. Been there.
Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas, Pine Bluff, 701 Main Street, 870-536-3375. This museum with a thirty year history is strong on serious art down home themes. When I visited, the two exhibits were carved wooden duck decoys and fine scientific text paintings of wild fungi. The decoys ranged from lifelike modern award-winning carvings to primitive contraptions assembled from pieces of driftwood. The detail in the paintings was astonishing. There's also a modern, well-equipped theatre in the center. Last visited 1/16/98. Have not visited their new location.
Arts Center of the Grand Prarie, Stuttgart, off Main Street on 12th, 870-673-1781. Local and regional artists, one featured per month. Occasional classes and seminars. Also music and theatre, dinner theatre, catered events. Last visited 2/18/99.
Band Museum, 423-425 Main Street, Pine Bluff, 870-534-HORN. There's plenty to see here even if you're not particularly interested in symphonic band music. It's the only museum in America devoted entirely to band (as opposed to orchestral) music. On display in a beautifully restored downtown store (built in 1890) is the private display of, for you fans of irony, Jerry Horne. There are instruments belonging to famous band musicians, such as Jack Jenny's trombone. He's the guy who played the trombone solo in Arte Shaw's rendition of "Stardust." There are some really peculiar instruments on display, a player harmonica for one, a double-belled trumpet for another. My favorite were the plastic trumpet and saxophone manufactured during brass shortage caused by WWII. Last visited 1/16/98.
Bradley County Historical Museum, 200 Ash Street, Warren, 870-***-****. Have not visited.
Delta Rivers Nature Center, 1400 Black Dog Road (in Regional Park), Pine Bluff. 870-534-0011. Exhibits on wildlife, nature, agriculture, hunting and fishing, natural history of swamps and rivers. Often used for hunter education and safety classes. Last visited 11/03.
Desha County Museum, Dumas, Hwy 54, 870-382-4222. One of the largest county museums in the state, this one has several buildings representing pioneer homes, shops, stores, etc. Also, there are two large buildings housing farm implements, war memorabilia, and a collection of stone knives and projectile points that are as good as any in the state. They won't let you handle the finer Indian stuff or things made of fabric (like uniforms, for instance), but they're pretty accommodating about nearly everything else. Been there.
Grant County Museum, Sheridan, highway 270 west of town, 870-942-4496. In the last five years, these guys have put together a museum park. In addition to the main building, there are several building exhibits, including a cafe from the 1930's, a dog-trot house from the late 19th century, an actual masonic lodge, a wooden barracks building from the second world war, a schoolhouse, a 1920's church and more. Note that the auxiliary buildings are not regularly opened. Call for appointments for the outbuilding tour or catch one of their special event days. My favorite exhibits were the cafe, a portable tin boat from 1895 and an educational collection of glass magic lantern slides in fine condition. Last visited 7/97.
Grider Field Memorial Museum, Grider Field Road, Pine Bluff Municipal Airport, 870-534-4131. Not worth a special trip, but if you're in the neighborhood, what the heck. The museum consists of a few cases of model WWII airplanes and a few wartime artifacts, logbooks, flight jackets and the like left over from when Grider Field was a pilot's training center. The best thing from the war era is the original pilots barracks, which is vacant, but looks to be in pretty good shape. About all you can do there is peek in the windows and see the layout of a typical WWII officers' barracks. Last visited 1/16/98.
Jefferson County Historical Museum, Pine Bluff, Jefferson County Courthouse, Barraque and Main, 870-541-5402.
Marisgate Plantation, Scott, Bearskin Lake Road, 961-1307. Antebellum mansion. By appointment. Have not been.
Pine Bluff and Jefferson County Historical Museum, Pine Bluff, Hwy 65 South, 870-541-5402. Housed in an old railroad depot, as lots of county museums are, this museum has a large duck hunting display, extensive doll collection and an excellent roomful of military artifacts. My favorite exhibit is a large collection of stereoscopic photographs from the first World War. They have a few things mislabelled, though. Keep that in mind when you see the "bowie knife" with the six-inch blade and the "cotton gin" that looks like a thresher. Last visited 1997.
Pioneer Village, Mockingbird Lane, Rison, 870-325-7289. Open June-August. Have not visited.
Plantation Agriculture Museum, Scott, hwy 165 east of North Little Rock, 501-961-1409. State-funded museum all about cotton, plantations, and boll-weevils. Last visited 2/26/04.
Stuttgart Agricultural Museum, 921 East 4th, 870-673-7001. Lots of farm equipment and duck-hunting artifacts, but that's not all. In a display case outside the duck room is one of the wonders of Arkansas, which my tourguide called the "Coat of Many Duckheads." And that's just what it is. The hides and feathers of the heads of 450 green mallards went into making this very green coat. Also, there's an excellent display of fully-functioning antique music boxes, vitaphones, radios, victrolas and player organs and pianos, all of which the tourguide will demonstrate for you. Be warned, though, they've got phonetic song sheets on hand, and before the tour continues, you'll be expected to sing "Lili Marlene." Last visited 8/10/97.
Toltec Mounds Archaeological State Park, Scott, take hwy 165 south from North Little Rock, 501-961-9442. There's a museum attatched to the visitors' center. Guided tours and self-guided tours. By the way, the first thing they'll tell you is that these mounds were built by the Plum Bayou culture, not Toltecs, as was thought back in the 19th century. Last visited 2/26/04.
Wagon Yard, England. This is a private collection dedicated to preserving the history of one man's family. There are dozens and dozens of wagons, surrey's, coaches, shays, carts, saddles and harnesses displayed along with reconstructions of early rough lumber homes, jails and the like. The highlights for me were the hearse and the yankee mail cart. Plus, the collection is displayed in connection with dozens and dozens of life-sized fiberglass mules and horses, and the draft-animal figures could be a display themselves. Been there.
Whitehall Museum, Whitehall (northwest of Pine Bluff), highway 365 behind the police station. Last Visited 1996.