A permanent exhibit that explores the 90-year history of the Museum of Discovery is now open, on the top floor of the museum. The project was supported in part by grants from the Arkansas Humanities Council, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Donald W. Reynolds Foundation.
Renowned Arkansas author Bernie Babcock founded the Museum of Natural History and Antiquities in 1927 in a long-ago razed building at Second and Main Streets. It moved to Little Rock City Hall from 1928 to 1934, then was closed for eight years before Babcock was able to secure and renovate space in the Arsenal Building in MacArthur Park. The museum moved there in 1942 and transitioned to become the Arkansas Museum of Science and History before exiting the former home of General Douglas MacArthur in 1997. The museum opened the next year, rebranded as the Museum of Discovery, in its current home in the Museum Center in the River Market district of downtown Little Rock.
Pieces from the museum’s collection reflecting each of these eras in its history are on display in the new museum history exhibit, and touchscreens allow visitors to dig more deeply into the museum’s history.
“Many if not most of the tens of thousands of visitors we welcome each year to the Museum of Discovery likely don’t know the history of Arkansas’s oldest museum, and we’re thrilled to be able to tell that long story,” says Kelley Bass, museum CEO. “We are very proud to carry on the legacy Bernie Babcock established 90 years ago, and I think all of us at the museum have enjoyed learning more about our rich past as this exhibit has been developed.”