A group of university women with a passion for the preservation of art founded the idea behind the space known today as the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum back in 1948. Construction of this fine arts museum began in 1960. Until that time, a group of artists was hopping around from place to place, holding exhibitions and hosting classes for those wanting to improve their creative skills. Over the next few decades, the Museum became an essential part of the community, offering artists a space to work and explore the works of others. It also began hosting free events for children and adults, all focused on unity and creativity.
It wasn’t until 2003 that this community staple began to flourish with the help from a generous donation made by the local bank Arvest Bank, which gave the cooperation a 16,000-square-feet building. This event brought attention to the fine arts museum like never before, giving it a spot on the map and creating anticipation among artists from around the world. In 2013, the center was officially incorporated into the America Alliance of Museums, developing communication and expanding their interactions with other art museums throughout the globe. After its incorporation, the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum (RAM) became the winner of several awards, including the Preservation through Rehabilitation Award from the Preservation Alliance of Arkansas and the Gulf State Merit Award and the Gold Award in 2014 due to its innovative and unique architectural design.
Today, this modernly designed fine arts museum has been deemed a historical landmark in the state of Arkansas, exposing visitors to rotating exhibitions of American art and multiple community activities. The Museum’s programming includes workshops and classes giving citizens a fun and free option to expand their creativity and hone their techniques. You can also find several ongoing events such as ‘Drop in and Draw,’ offering drawing enthusiasts a live model to sketch, as well as the popular ‘RAM Saturdays,’ which gives a detailed look into different styles of art every week to promote diversity. RAM’s popularity continues to grow by incorporating new members daily and with plans to continue, featuring traveling exhibits that come from far and wide. The fine arts museum has made it the mission “to foster art appreciation in the community through diverse exhibitions, educational programming, dynamic events, and cultural partnerships,” and that is exactly what you can expect from this reputable institution that came from an idea created by a love for art and a thirst for solidarity.