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story.lead_photo.caption Leisa Gramlich Executive Director Fort Smith Museum of History

Leisa Gramlich

Executive Director

Welcome Home Judge Parker’s Stickpin Party and Dance

Who: Fort Smith Museum of History

What: Music, dancing, story telling, beer, wine, soda fountain

When: 6 p.m. June 14

Where: The museum, 320 Rogers Ave. in Fort Smith

Tickets: $30

Attire: Western

Information: (479) 783-7841 or

Fort Smith Museum of History

Tell us about your organization:

Mission: To collect, preserve and share the history and culture of Fort Smith and the surrounding region.

Services provided: The Fort Smith Museum of History offers exhibitions and programs that directly involve Fort Smith and area residents through interviews to accumulate oral histories and the collection of artifacts. Examples include the annual Veterans Day reception and exhibit, music history, motorcycle history and culture, Black History in Fort Smith, aviation, broadcast, architectural and women's history.

Programs are included with museum admission. Fort Smith Public Schools, University of Arkansas at Fort Smith and Arkansas College of Osteopathic Medicine students are offered free admission and membership. Organizations that cater to troubled youth are offered free admission. Regional schools, children's groups, senior citizen groups and veterans/military are offered a reduced admission rate.

Service area: The Fort Smith Museum of History serves local, regional, national and international visitors annually. This number represents the visitors to the museum and does not include audiences reached through public research requests, the website, radio, television, social media and online sites which reach approximately 300,000 persons annually.

Average number of people served annually: Approximately 20,000.

How is your organization's mission unique? As the only institution to address the complete history of Fort Smith from the founding of the first fort in 1817 through the 21st century, the Fort Smith Museum of History offers residents and visitors unique services unavailable at other local cultural heritage sites.

Why do you work for a nonprofit organization? Do you have a personal connection to the mission? If so, what is it? Prior to working at the Fort Smith Museum of History, I attended fundraising events and frequently visited the museum, developing a love for the institution. As a lifelong resident of Fort Smith, I have an appreciation for the long and varied history of the region.

What part of your job fills the most of your time? Most of my time is spent in the daily operation of the Fort Smith Museum of History. As a nonprofit organization housed in a 1906 National Register of Historic Places structure with approximately 40,000 artifacts to care for, ongoing operations are a challenge. I have met fascinating people with wonderful history stories to share.

The museum was established in 1910 as the Old Commissary Museum and has been in continuous operation. The museum itself has a long and fascinating history.

What upcoming fundraisers and/or other events does your organization have planned? "Welcome Home Judge Parker's Stickpin Party and Dance" is set for June 14. The stickpin that belonged to the famous Federal Judge for the Western District of Arkansas was stolen from a locked case, promptly recovered by the Fort Smith Police Department and is now home safe and sound in the museum's vault. The pin will be displayed for the party (and guarded). The party begins at 6 p.m. with beer, wine and soft drinks in the old-fashioned soda fountain and an exhibition of the stickpin. Music and dancing will follow at 7 p.m. with the Western Swing Rules Band featuring Robert Huston, Bruce Fowler and Paul Moore including a music history lesson. Learn the stories of Bob Wills, Bob White, Gene Gasaway, Jerry Roller and other music legends and their connection to Fort Smith.

Wear your boots, kick up your heels and celebrate 200 years!

-- Carin Schoppmeyer

NAN Profiles on 06/10/2018

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