Grant County Museum
The Grant County Museum in Sheridan (Grant County) aims to preserve the heritage of the county and to provide individual attention to both students and adults seeking information pertaining to local history. In 2002, the museum was awarded the Museum of the Year award by the Arkansas Museums Association.
The Grant County Museum was established in 1963 by Prattsville High School history teacher Elwin Goolsby as a local history teaching project for his students. From 1963 until late 1970, the museum’s collections were housed in various classrooms provided by Prattsville (Grant County) and Sheridan schools. In 1970, the Sheridan Chamber of Commerce began looking for a permanent home for Goolsby’s rapidly expanding collections. This desire was sparked by the interest shown by Grant County residents in the exhibits that were displayed during Sheridan’s bicentennial celebration. In 1970, the chamber purchased a building that had been owned by the Church of Christ, providing the first permanent home for the museum.
In 1992, the museum, having outgrown its building, began a drive to replace the old wooden building with a larger, more modern facility. The drive came to fruition with the gift of three acres of land from J. J. Shackleford, a monetary gift from W. R. “Witt” Stephens, and grant money from the City of Sheridan. The W. R. “Witt” Stephens Building opened in 1994 and became the new home of the museum.
Since 2001, the museum has constructed and opened seven additional exhibit galleries. Funding for these galleries has been provided by private donations through the Museum Foundation and Museum Guild. These galleries include the following: 1) the Arkansas Louisiana Gas Company Gallery, housing a collection of Arkla company artifacts given to the museum by retired gas company employees; 2) the World War II Gallery featuring exhibits pertaining to local wartime participation; 3) an antique automobile gallery that houses not only an excellent collection of antique automobiles but also one of the state’s largest collections of advertising memorabilia; 4) the Jenkins’ Ferry Civil War Gallery featuring artifacts from the Red River Campaign and the Engagement at Jenkins’ Ferry; 5) the Richard Harrison Gallery housing a collection of eighteen World War II vehicles; 6) the Vietnam/Korean War Gallery spotlighting artifacts reflecting upon local participation in these conflicts; and 7) the Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom Gallery housing artifacts from Grant County’s participation in these conflicts.
In November 2008, a handicapped-accessible boardwalk that follows a horseshoe design through the museum’s three-acre Shackleford Woods was completed and opened to visitors. A pavilion located at the entrance of the boardwalk was completed in late 2010 and is available for picnics and small gatherings.
The present facilities include a collection of historical Grant County structures that have been moved to the museum since 1989. These structures, located on the museum’s Heritage Square, include a Depression-era church, a 1920s diner, a reconstructed Masonic lodge, an 1870s dogtrot house with outbuildings, a 1900s Victorian dwelling, a law/doctor’s office, a working blacksmith shop, and a 1934 Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) fire tower. The main building houses exhibits relating to Grant County history. The administration wing of the building houses staff offices, a conference room, an activity room, an archival room, and an exhibit preparation area.
The museum, which is owned by the county, is governed by a seven-member board of commissioners appointed by the county judge and approved by the quorum court. A director, two paid employees, and local volunteers constitute the staff. The museum operates on a budget appropriated by the quorum court with supplemental funding provided by the Museum Guild, a 300-plus friends organization, the Museum Foundation, and private donations. Three issues of the museum’s historical journal, Grassroots, are published yearly.
For additional information:
Clift, Zoie. “Grant County Museum Home to Impressive Collection.”Jonesboro Sun, January 14, 2014, p. 8C.
Grant County Museum. http://www.grantcountymuseumar.com/index.html (accessed July 7, 2014).
Schnedler, Marcia. “Museum Shines on Historic Grant County.” Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, December 12, 2003, p. 10W.
Taylor, Jim. “Grant County Museum Making History of Its Own.” Rural Arkansas 55 (November 2001): 8–10.
Staff of the Grant County Museum
Last Updated: 10/27/2017