Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, Fort Smith

#14 of 16 in Things to do in Fort Smith
Art Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
RAM originated in 1948 under the Arkansas Association of University Women. In 1951 the Associated Artists of Fort Smith began exhibiting art and holding classes in various locations throughout Fort Smith. In 1960 space for an art center was purchased, and in 1968 the Fort Smith Art Center was incorporated. The small Art Center offered a valuable service for local and regional artists by offering space for its artists for five decades.

The opening of the new museum located at 1601 Rogers Avenue near the heart of Fort Smith marked a major turning point for this organization. Arvest Bank made the expansion possible by donating the 16,000 square-foot building to the Art Center in January of 2009, following a $211 million dollar buyout of Superior Federal Bank in 2003. In 2011 the museum’s founding Executive Director was hired to oversee the museum’s renovation project and to facilitate its greatly expanded programming. The Art Center was fully re-branded and opened in January of 2013 as the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum that is fully compliant with the standards of the American Alliance of Museums.

RAM won the prestigious Preservation through Rehabilitation Award from the Historic Preservation Alliance of Arkansas (2013), the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Gulf State Region Merit Award (2014), and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) Gold Award. The nationally recognized architects of the newly renovated museum, Polk, Stanley Wilcox, are known for their work such as the William J. Clinton Presidential Library, Heifer International World Headquarters, and the Arkansas Studies Institute (ASI) of Little Rock.

RAM facilitates nationally and internally recognized traveling exhibitions and rotating exhibits of works by local and regional artists. In addition to ongoing exhibitions the museum offers classes for children and adults, lectures, opening receptions, children’s art camps, galas, free Saturday programming, after school programs and artist-led workshops. The museum offers facility rentals and a specialty gift shop featuring one-of-a-kind items created by local and regional artists.

The new state-of-the-art Museum meets national standards and has greatly contributed to cultural growth in the region.
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Fort Smith Regional Art Museum reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
11 reviews
  • We spent a couple of hours there on a cold, wet weekday afternoon. Aside from staff we were the only ones there! Pandemic precautions were good - hand sanitizer and masks available; markings on the....  more »
  • All though the building is small and only three levels, it houses many amazing works of art. The collection is always changing. We enjoyed the afternoon strolling at leisure through the exhibits!  more »
  • I arrived a little before closing on a Thursday evening. The staff was really welcoming and explained they had an interactive photography exhibition with a tablet. The photos were really big, super vibrant, and breathtaking. It's one of the best photography exhibitions I've ever seen. I'd definitely recommend going soon. Then I went upstairs to a different exhibit. It was really nostalgic. Growing up in the south I can relate to seeing nature, livestock, and old equipment. There were elements of military and other cultural influences in the artwork as well. The lower level was full of student work and the porcelain gallery. It was very beautiful and meticulously crafted. Definitely a must see. I saw a lot of potential in the student work and some that were really good. The building was nice, really clean, and the restrooms were well kept. They have done a good job with the place and the art displayed.
  • This place is really cool. It has a lot of really cool art work. They have classes on Saturdays that are free. They also has competitions in art and photography. These are my photography pieces that are hanging in the museum right now in the student gallery.

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