Bump, the latest in the Arkansas Made Film Series

The Arkansas Made research team seeks to locate and document decorative, mechanical and fine art produced in Arkansas. With tape measure, camera and notepad in hand, we are traveling the state in search of original works of photography, furniture, handmade silver, firearms, quilts, pottery and other artisan-made objects believed to have been created in Arkansas. As part of a project of the Historic Arkansas Museum, our findings will be presented in the third and fourth volumes of the series Arkansas Made: A Survey of the Decorative, Mechanical and Fine Arts Produced in Arkansas, published by the University of Arkansas Press.


The Arkansas Made works that we document are vital to the preservation of our state’s rich and varied creative legacy. If you have a family heirloom you believe was made in Arkansas, we would love to hear from you at (501) 324-9376 or [email protected]



“A leaky roof, a coonskin cap, a fiddle and a jug were not the outstanding characteristics of early Arkansas."


 - Louise Watkins Wright Loughborough, founder of Historic Arkansas Museum


The Arkansas Made research team has worked to transform the cultural image of Arkansas from a crude, backwoods pioneer state to one rich in artistic traditions. Our many years of meticulous research have revealed a multitude of artisans working in every corner of the state, ranging from cabinet makers, silversmiths and potters, to fine portrait artists, quilters and more.


Led by the Historic Arkansas Museum’s deputy director and chief curator, Swannee Bennett, and executive director Bill Worthen, Arkansas Made is the first project of its kind. For nearly four decades, museum staff and field


Clothes Press

Made by John Lancaster

Izard County, AR


On loan from Bob Cheshire



The Arkansas Made Research Team’s findings culminated in the publication of the first two volumes of Arkansas Made: A Survey of the Decorative, Mechanical and Fine Art Produced in Arkansas, published by the University of Arkansas Press in 1990 and 1991.


The first volume covers the introduction and flourishing of artisan traditions such as furniture making and silversmithing, notes the materials and special techniques used by potters, gunsmiths and jewelers, and illustrates their delicate craftsmanship through approximately 200 photographs. It also includes biographical appendices of hundreds of Arkansas’s early artisans.


The second volume of Arkansas Made features approximately 200 images of the paintings and photographs produced in Arkansas during the same time period and includes biographical appendices of hundreds of Arkansas artisans.






Historic Arkansas Museum is the largest history museum in the state dedicated to systematically researching, documenting, collecting and preserving Arkansas Made objects. Several of our galleries showcase both historic Arkansas Made art and objects well as the works of today’s active artists.


The museum’s Trinity Gallery showcases the best of contemporary work by Arkansas's talented artists and artisans. Open since 1973, the Trinity Gallery is the state’s oldest gallery dedicated to the display of active Arkansas artists. For more than two decades, the Historic Arkansas Museum has actively collected the works of current artists from around the state.


In June of 2013, the museum will launch its new Arkansas Made Gallery. The space will be used exclusively for the interpretive exhibition of its collection of decorative, mechanical and fine art, including furniture, silver, pottery, textiles, firearms and fine art, in a variety of media. We will also exhibit Arkansas Made material culture from various private and public collections.


Large Vase, manufactured by Niloak Pottery, with turned, “Mission Swirl” clay body. 1920-1930. Private collection.

researchers have documented the lives and works of historic and contemporary artists, from prehistoric times to the present day. These artists and their works shed light upon many aspects of past emerging cultures. The portrait artist, for example, left us not only likenesses of the local squire and his somber brood, but contributed, unknowingly, to our understanding of the currents of local taste, the degree of patronage of the arts, and various aspects of conspicuous taste and waste. The products of the local cabinetmaker and gunsmith reveal something about patterns of economic exchange. As products of craftsmanship, these objects throw light upon the materials and the manufacturing techniques known to various trades. As portraiture contributes to our developing understanding of that day’s aesthetics, so also do utilitarian wares furnish relevant data about a family’s standard of living, its position within the community and the current attitudes toward popular taste and consumption. The analysis of each artifact in form, style, construction and ornamentation reveal the quality of workmanship, and the general social mood interpreted through the bygone craftsman’s vocabulary of design.


The culmination of the museum’s current research will be the publication of the third and fourth volumes in the University of Arkansas Press series, Arkansas Made: A Survey of the Decorative, Mechanical and Fine Art Produced in Arkansas. Although our forthcoming publications will include the works of Arkansas artists through the post war era, the project has expanded its mission to document all artists and artisans working in the state to the present day. Regionally and recognized artists such as Jenny Delony and Louis and Elsie Freund are among those twentieth-century artists who figure prominently into this ongoing effort.




The upcoming third and fourth volumes will continue to explore the creative spirit within the fine and decorative arts following the Civil War and through the post war era. We will also publish objects from both the colonial and antebellum periods that have come to light since the first two volumes. The upcoming volumes will explore the art of Arkansas’s Native Americans, much of which survives in public collections like the University of Arkansas (Fayetteville), the Arkansas Archeological Survey and Henderson State University. We are fortunate that institutions like the National Museum of the American Indian holds in trust many fine examples of the work created by Arkansas’s indigenous tribes, the Quapaw, Caddo and Osage.



The Arkansas Made research staff has compiled an exhaustive body of original documentary research to provide further evidence related to the social and economic history of the artist and artisan class in Arkansas. Census records, newspaper advertisements, personal journals, letters and business ledgers have furnished important insight into both the range and quality of functional and fine art created in Arkansas. All references to artisans found in these sources have been carefully recorded in our Arkansas Made database, for the purpose of the Arkansas Made books, as well as for the benefit of future researchers.

Henry Byrd receipt for portrait painting in Batesville, 1843. From the Independence County Probate Records, Batesville, Ark.


Hickory Chair from Madison County, Ark., c. 1850-1900. Collection of Historic Arkansas Museum.

The field portion of the project has taken curator, researcher and photographer to all corners of the state and beyond, peering into chests of drawers and behind family portraits, measuring pots, and hoping for the discovery of makers’ marks. Led by the museum’s deputy director and chief curator Swannee Bennett, the research team carefully photographs, measures and records the history of each painting, quilt, firearm and photograph. With the permission of each owner, the museum staff will evaluate the object for possible inclusion in the forthcoming volumes.

We invite all who may have artwork, or a piece of furniture, a quilt, or other works believed to have been created in Arkansas, to contact our research staff to inquire further about the project, and to set up a meeting to for our staff to evaluate their beloved Arkansas Made treasures.



Arkansas Made Research Project

Attn: Courtney Potts or Caroline Millar

Historic Arkansas Museum

200 E. Third Street

Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 324-9376

email: [email protected]














The Historic Arkansas Museum is a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritage.


The Arkansas Made Research Project is funded in part by a generous grant from the Arkansas Natural and the Cultural Resources Council.


The Historic Arkansas Museum is a museum of the Department of Arkansas Heritgage. Hosted by TeamSI.

Arkansas Made Research Project

Historic Arkansas Museum

200 E. Third Street   |   Little Rock, AR 72201   |   501.324.9376

[email protected]