It’s been overshadowed by the planned multimillion-dollar Arkansas Arts Center renovation, but another Little Rock landmark is also getting a face-lift.
Renovation work is underway on the MacArthur Museum of Arkansas Military History, an Arts Center neighbor in MacArthur Park. The MacArthur Museum renovation is a $1.4 million project funded by the same Little Rock bond issue that’s helping underwrite the $46 million-plus Arts Center transformation.
A $100,000 grant from the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program is also going toward work on the 178-year-old 19,500-SF MacArthur Museum building.
Museum Executive Director Stephan McAteer says the MacArthur Museum’s “iconic” two-story front and rear porches are being rebuilt, it’s getting a new energy-efficient heating and cooling system and a new lighting system and all the interior galleries will be repainted.
The bulk of the project, McAteer said, will be moving inside in April, and the renovation will necessitate the closure of the museum, owned by the city of Little Rock, from April 1 through the end of August.
The general contractor on the project is Morris Beck Construction Services of Little Rock, and the architect is Tim Heiple with Heiple + Wiedower Architects, also of Little Rock.
The museum is in the old U.S. Arsenal Building, a National Historic Landmark, one of only 24 in Arkansas, and on the National Register of Historic Places and had to go through project approvals from local, state and national preservation organizations, McAteer said. The museum gets its name from Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who was born in the Arsenal Building.
“I love to stress to people that the money for our project, as well as the money for a large portion of the Arts Center project … that’s coming from that bed tax,” McAteer said, referring to a 2 percent hotel tax the Little Rock Board of Directors approved in 2015.
“Not a dime of it’s having to come from the people who live in Little Rock. It’s coming out of money that’s paid by tourists who come and stay in our hotels.”
The Arts Center, meanwhile, is set to unveil its major renovation plans on Tuesday.
The renovations of the MacArthur Museum and the Arts Center are making “two long-term investments in the city’s first public park [MacArthur Park] and in the downtown area and I think [will] bring renewed attention to the downtown area,” McAteer said.
“I think long term, for the future of downtown and MacArthur Park, these are two very worthwhile projects that are long overdue and I think will have a great impact.”