The Old State House Museum’s exhibit “Play It Loud: Concerts at Barton Coliseum” opens virtually on Friday, April 23 with a tour at 7 p.m. on the museum’s Facebook and YouTube channels.
“Play It Loud” will showcase concert memorabilia donated to the Old State House’s collection by the Arkansas State Fair and private donors.
Visitors to the museum will be able to view the exhibit starting April 27 during regular business hours, Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. COVID protocols will be in place at this time including masks and social distancing.
“The Old State House Museum always creates vivid exhibits and “Play It Loud: Concerts at Barton Coliseum” is no exception,” said Stacy Hurst, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism. “We truly hope both Arkansans and visitors to our state will enjoy this exhibit and exploring some of Arkansas’s rich music heritage including many of the famous acts who stopped at Barton to perform.”
Performers featured include AC/DC, ZZ Top, The Allman Brothers Band, Chuck Berry, Elvis Presley, Merle Haggard, The Jackson Five, Charlie Pride, Lawrence Welk and Tammy Wynette, and Fleetwood Mac, just to name a few.
“It has been fascinating watching the progress of this exhibit,” said Jimmy Bryant, director of the Division of Arkansas Heritage. “As COVID restrictions slowly lift, we are welcoming an increased number of guests into the museum. I especially encourage Arkansans who grew up attending concerts at Barton Coliseum to stop by to relive some of their favorite music memories.”
Music genres represented include rock, country, gospel, hip-hop, rap, R&B blues, pop, funk and soul. Artifacts such as t-shirts, records, instruments, programs, buttons, and more from the 1950s to today will be on display as well as videos from people who were up close and personal with the concert experience at Barton Coliseum.
The exhibit was guest curated by Robert Cochran, professor of English at the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.
“Our amazing team has been curating this exhibit for well over a year,” said Bill Gatewood, director of the Old State House Museum. “There were more than 13,000 individual artifacts that were generously donated by the Arkansas State Fair which had to be catalogued and archived before our curator could select exhibit items. COVID provided some unique challenges to creating an exhibit, from contractor delays to staff working offsite, but we are so proud of the end result and welcome guests to the museum to see ‘Play It Loud: Concerts at Barton Coliseum’ now until fall of 2022.”
“The staff did an amazing job pulling together the vision for this exhibit,” said Old State House Museum Curator Jo Ellen Maack. “For me, it was a personal walk down memory lane. I grew up going to concerts at Barton in the 1970s and 1980s and as I visit with people about ‘Play It Loud’ it seems like everyone has a personal concert story to share. Even though we couldn’t put in every artifact, I feel like we’ve represented the genres and decades well and hope this event bring about a nostalgic feeling for music fans.”