Permanent Exhibits


From Turbulence to Tranquility: The Little Rock Arsenal

As you enter the museum, learn the history of the Little Rock Arsenal, established as a frontier military post in 1840, and subsequent uses of the site after the Arsenal closed in 1890. 


Capital In Crisis: Little Rock and the Civil War

The Civil War gallery begins with the debate over secession in Arkansas, which led to a standoff between Federal authorities and local militia on these grounds, know as the Arsenal Crisis. The exhibit also covers Arkansas's involvement in the Civil War and Little Rock's capture by Union Forces in September 1863. 

Alger Cadet Gun

Beginning in 1848 the Cyrus Alger & Company produced artillery pieces called “6-punder guns, light,” which have since been known as “Cadet guns." Only 10 were ever made, with 7 still known to exist. These guns were intended for drill and instruction by military cadets; however, a shortage of field pieces in the Confederacy at the beginning of the Civil War resulted in the Cadet guns being commandeered for active duty. The two guns from the Arkansas Military Institute in Tulip were carried to Virginia in 1861 by the school’s cadets as Company I, “Tulips Rifles,” of the Third Arkansas Infantry. These Arkansas soldiers fought with the Army of Northern Virginia in all of the major battles in the east, including Sharpsburg, Gettysburg, the Siege of Petersburg, finally surrendering at Appomattox Court House. This cadet gun is on loan from Petersburg National Battlefield.

Camden Expedition

In the spring of 1864, while Ulysses S. Grant battled Robert E. Lee, and Sherman was prepared to capture Atlanta, the United States army and navy west of the Mississippi River were put in motion to capture Shreveport, provisional capital of the Confederacy west of the Mississippi River. With the capture of Shreveport, the Union would have a staging area to invade Texas.

On March 23, 1864, the Arkansas phase of this two pronged military campaign began when General Steele and 8,500 troops left the Little Rock Arsenal with their objective being Shreveport. The Camden Expedition was perhaps the greatest federal military disaster of the Civil War in Arkansas. Union forces suffered over 2,500 casualties, lost hundreds of wagons and gained not one inch of new territory.

David Owen Dodd Story

David Owen Dodd is perhaps one of the best-known Civil War figures in Arkansas history. The city of Little Rock remembered the boy, hanged as a Confederate spy in January 1864, by naming a school and a road in his honor. While many see him as a martyr, others argue his execution was justified according to military rules of war. Dodd's story has captivated audiences for years due to a combination of unanswered questions and unfortunate twists of fate.

The David O. Dodd window, commemorating the young Arkansan executed as a Confederate spy in 1864, was unveiled at The Confederate Museum in Richmond, Virginia, on November 7, 1911. The idea for the window originated three years earlier, when the Arkansas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy began raising funds for a memorial window for the Arkansas Room at the Richmond museum, which was housed in the former White House of the Confederacy.

In January of 2004, the Museum of the Confederacy loaned the Dodd window to the museum in order to commemorate the 140th anniversary of Dodd's trial and execution.

First Call: American Posters of World War I

Posters played an important role in World War I, used not only to justify involvement in the conflict, but alsoto procure men and resources for the war effort. Posters helped raise more than $30 billion through the Liberty and Victory Loan drives and promoted home front conservation efforts. In addition to the posters, interpretive panels and artifacts will discuss U.S. involvement in the war, imagery used in the posters and their success in fundraising and recruitment.

The Sun Never Sets on the Mighty Jeep: The Jeep During World War II

The Sun Never Sets on the Mighty Jeep is an exhibit that traces the history and development of the vehicle that became known as the Jeep during World War II. By war's end, the Jeep had become the "goodwill ambassador for the United States," carrying everything and everyone from privates to generals and presidents. The exhibit includes an original M1943 Willys Jeep.

Through the Camera's Eye: The Allison Collection of World War II Photographs

During World War II, James Allison, a sports writer working for the Houston Press, noticed that many photographs not printed in the daily newspaper were routinely discarded. He received permission to save these images, and by war's end he had amassed a collection of more than 4,600 photographs. In August 1977, Allison donated his collection to the Arkansas Museum of Science and History, located in the historic Arsenal building in MacArthur Park. Today, the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History owns and preserves these images. Click here to view the Allison Collection virtual gallery.

Duty, Honor and Country: General Douglas MacArthur

Born in the tower building which now houses the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, Douglas MacArthur, one of the twentieth century's greatest war heroes, was also one of this country's most controversial military leaders. A brilliant soldier, MacArthur was one of the few American military leaders to challenge directly the authority of his civilian commander in chief. His role in national and international affairs, from World War I through Korea, made MacArthur an important historical figure.

By the President in the Name of Congress: Arkansas's Medal of Honor Recipients

The Medal of Honor is the highest award for valor in military action that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the United States' armed forces. The award recognizes action distinguished by gallantry “at the risk of life, above and beyond the call of duty.” This exhibit honors the 25 Arkansans whose service to our country has earned them the Medal of Honor.