What Is The Best Art Gallery Or Museum In Arkansas ?

Thom Bierdz
5 min readMay 1, 2019

For the past 11 years, American Art Awards has decided the 25 Best Galleries and Museums in America. Among the criteria: years in business, industry reputation, online activity, location, size, exhibits, educational programs, represented artists and references from artists, clients and visitors. They pick only one per state per year.

American Art Awards: “Fort Smith Regional Art Museum is a multi-award-winning art institution that facilitates nationally and internationally recognized traveling exhibitions and rotating exhibits of works by local and regional artists. Stunning exterior and interiors — but RAM excels in many departments besides being a visual glory. Their numerous free, ongoing programs for the youth are a gift to the open mind, and Arkansas as a whole. Well-intentioned socially-conscious programs, knowledgeable staff, prominent artists, halls of masterpieces, great organization and production… meeting the high expectations of visitors. American Art Awards selects Fort Smith Regional Art Museum as the Best Gallery or Museum in Arkansas, 2019, and one of our Top 25, 2019.”


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. 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. The building that houses RAM, the old Superior Federal Savings and Loan Bank building at 1601 Rogers Avenue, was listed on the Arkansas Register of Historic Places, with local significance, as an example of a Mid-Century Modern design by the Fort Smith architecture firm of Mott, Mobley, Horstman and Staton.

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.


2019 Student Photography Competition

Opening Reception: Thursday, May 2, 2019

Dr. William E. Knight Porcelain Gallery
Grand Opening: Thursday, May 2, 2019

Edward Robison, III: The Nature of Photography from Traditional to Augmented Reality
Opening Reception: Thursday, May 9, 2019

The Nature of Photography — An Artist’s Journey from Traditional to Augmented Reality
Lecture by Edward Robison III
Friday, May 10, 2019, 6–7PM

Flag Books/Multimedia Monoprints Workshop
with Jessi Medeiros
Saturday, May 18, 10AM-4PM

Altering Perception: A Lecture on Color Theory
Lecture by Bridget Duncan
Thursday, June 13, 2019, 6–7PM

An Element of Nature — Drawings, Paintings & Beehives
Opening Reception: Thursday, August 1, 2019

An Element of Nature — A Sense of Place
Lecture by David Mudrinich
Friday, August 2, 2019, 6–7PM

Norma Tomboulian: Life into Clay
Opening Reception: Thursday, September 5, 2019

Life into Clay, an Artist’s Journey
Lecture by Norma Tomboulian
September 6, 2019, 6–7PM

We are the Music Makers: Preserving the Soul of America’s Music
Opening Reception:Thursday, November 28, 2019

Highlights from the Permanent Collection
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 9, 2020

A Family Affair: Three Artists, Three Visions, One Family
Opening Reception:Thursday, March 12, 2020

Tim Ernst — Arkansas Beauty
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 23, 2020

Exploring the Big Trail
Opening Reception: Thursday, June 25, 2020


Toddler Tuesdays / RAM Homeschool Art Classes / The ARTS with Grace / Visual Thinking Strategy Tours / Drop in and Draw / RAM Saturdays

Fort Smith Regional Art Museum / 1601 Rogers Avenue / Fort Smith, AR 72901……….(479) 784–2787 (479) 784–9071

Museum Hours / Tuesday–Saturday 11am-6 pm / Sundays 1–5 pm


See all 25 Best Galleries & Museums here: https://www.americanartawards.com/2019-best-american-galleries-and-museums/

www.AmericanArtAwards.com annually awards 25 museums and galleries in spring, and with their critique in autumn, awards 300 artists (painters, photographers, sculptors and digital artists).



Thom Bierdz

One of Medium’s TOP ART CONTRIBUTORS, award-winning author, actor, film-maker, painter. 12 books: 6 on art. President of WAA & AAA & ACCA.