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Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock

Arkansas Arts Center, Little Rock

On Aug. 20, 1961, ground was broken for the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock after an almost year-long fundraising effort. Seeds for the building were planted in June 1957 when the Junior League of Little Rock decided to establish a Community Arts Center. A committee of members met with Arkansas residents Jeanette and Winthrop Rockefeller, asking for their assistance in raising monies. Committee member Jeane Hamilton said, "Win looked at us and said, 'Girls, if we are going to build an Arts Center, lets make it the Arkansas Arts Center.'"

Art classes for children and adults began in February 1960, and on Sep. 6 of that year, Little Rock City Ordinance No. 11,111 created the Arkansas Arts Center.

With the funding totaling more than had been expected, a building committee was formed to work with famed Little Rock architect Ed Cromwell to plan the new center which included a theater, workshops, classrooms, office space, exhibition area and a tea room. Groundbreaking took place in August 1961 with the dedication of the new facility on May 18, 1963.

Over the years, the AAC has gained an international reputation for its acclaimed works on paper collection, plus other pieces of fine art. It also hosts touring exhibits of national significance and provides Arkansas artists a place to showcase and sell their works. The center is located at 9th and Commerce in MacArthur Park, a part of downtown Little Rocks Quapaw Quarter Historic District. A series of special exhibitions and events during the year celebrate the occasion.