Take Your Purse With You: The Reimagined Work of Katherine Strause

May 9 through August 27, 2017

ESSE Purse Museum is pleased to feature a beautiful new temporary exhibit by Little Rock artist Katherine Strause. Take Your Purse With You will run from Tuesday, May 9, 2017 through Sunday, August 27, 2017 and is included in general admission.

Strause’s work features paintings of women and their purses. Inspired by discarded and found mid-century photographs, Strause’s series touches on themes of transcendence, hope, and transformation. Her work aspires to challenge viewers in how they think about the past and present as well as the generations of women in their lives.

Strause created the works especially for ESSE, and it pairs perfectly with the museum’s permanent exhibit, What’s Inside: A Century of Women and Handbags, 1900-1990, which tells the 20th-century story of the American woman through the purse and its contents.

ESSE Purse Museum & Store is located at 1510 Main Street in the SoMa neighborhood of downtown Little Rock. It’s open Tuesday through Saturday, from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m., and Sunday, from 11 a.m.- 3 p.m. General admission is $10 per person; students, seniors, and military rates are $8 per person; children five and under are free. For groups of eight people or more, tickets are $7 per person.

Reflections: Images and Objects from African American Women, 1891-1987

January 31, 2017 through April 30, 2017

ESSE Purse Museum and Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC) are thrilled to announce a new collaborative exhibit, Reflections: Images and Objects from African American Women, 1891-1987, which opens at ESSE on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. The temporary exhibit runs through Sunday, April 30, 2017, and is included in regular admission price.

In conjunction with Black History Month and Women’s History Month, Reflections honors and celebrates African American woman in the late 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibit will view their lives through the lens of feminine material culture, ephemera, and photography. ESSE and MTCC hope visitors will reflect on the private spheres of every day life of African American women in Arkansas and beyond.

The artifacts on display represent the collections of MTCC, the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies, and ESSE Purse Museum. The private collections of the Bernice Lamb McSwain family and Mary and Joshua Swift have also contributed to the making of this exhibit.

ESSE Purse Museum & Store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. General admission is $10 and student, senior (60+), and military admission is $8. Ask us about group rates.

Kent StetsonA Walk in Her Shoes

October 11, 2016 through January 15, 2017

ESSE Purse Museum is excited to announce a new temporary exhibit, A Walk In Her Shoes, which opens Tuesday, October 11, 2016. The exhibit runs through Sunday, January 15, 2017, and is included in regular admission price.

A Walk In Her Shoes traces the steps of the American woman over the course of 100 years. Beginning at the turn of the twentieth century, the exhibit reflects on the evolving styles, materials, silhouettes, and function in women’s footwear. From restrictive lace-up leather boots and painted silk peep-toe heels to glamorous stiletto pumps and chunky punk scene platforms, the exhibit showcases major trends in women’s shoes in North America and Europe. The museum hopes it will also raise questions about women’s evolving mobility, social positions, and expressive choices in the public sphere.

The artifacts on display represent a diverse array of designers and craft origin. Visitors can expect to see shoes by mid-century greats like Christian Dior, Bally, Salvatore Ferragamo, and Mary Quant, end-of-century stunners by Christian Louboutin, Thierry Mugler, and Yves Saint Laurent, and everything in between. In addition to these haute couture lines, the exhibit draws from Caribbean, South American, Asian, and American designs as well.

A Walk in Her Shoes features 50 pairs from the collection of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada as well as an extensive selection from ESSE Purse Museum’s own collection.

ESSE Purse Museum & Store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. General admission is $10 and student, senior (60+), and military admission is $8. Ask us about group rates.

THE ART OF HANDBAGS

AUGUST 16, 2016 THROUGH SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

ESSE Purse Museum will open an exciting new art exhibit by Rhode Island artist and designer Kent Stetson on Tuesday, August 16, 2016. The Art of Handbags, which runs through Sunday, September 25, features mixed media installations.

Museum visitors can expect the unexpected with this new temporary exhibit, which is unlike anything ESSE has hosted before. Stetson’s exhibit will offer a fresh, artful, contemplative take on the purse, which serves as the fundamental storytelling device of our museum. From abstract assemblages and video elements to glittering sculptures and graphic wall pieces, The Art of Handbags is sure to transport the viewer.

The staff at ESSE couldn’t be happier to showcase Stetson, who is also a featured maker in the museum store. His purses are chic, graphic works of art that are known for eye-catching themes and versatility.

The Art of Handbags by Kent Stetson runs Tuesday, August 16 through Sunday, September 25. ESSE Purse Museum & Store is open from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. Tuesday – Saturday and 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sunday. General admission is $10; students, seniors, and military admission is $8; groups of eight or more are $7/person.

Changing Tides: 100 Years of Iconic Swimwear

May 10, 2016 through August 7, 2016

ESSE Purse Museum is excited to announce a new temporary exhibit, Changing Tides: 100 Years of Iconic Swimwear, which opens Tuesday, May 10, 2016. The exhibit runs through Sunday, August 7 and is included in regular admission price.

Changing Tides highlights iconic women’s swimwear in the 20th Century. From homemade to haute couture, the core installation features select suits on loan from the collection of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada.

Beginning in the 1900’s, the exhibit invites visitors to reflect on the changing styles, materials, silhouettes, and expressions in women’s swimwear over the course of 100 years. From voluminous wool bathing costumes and silk pageant suits to gingham bikinis and skin-tight spandex, the exhibit features iconic examples of major fashion trends as recreational swimming and bathing developed as a social activity over the course of the 20th Century.

The exhibit draws from the collections of the Fashion History Museum and ESSE Purse Museum.

ESSE Purse Museum & Store is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. and Sundays from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. General admission is $10 and student, senior (60+), and military admission is $8. Ask us about group rates.

Caro Nan

March 22, 2016 through May 1, 2016

ESSE welcomes new exhibit on March 22 featuring Caro Nan basket purses

ESSE Purse Museum presents a new temporary exhibit Caro Nan: The Women Behind the Baskets, which opens Tuesday, March 22, 2016. The exhibit runs through Sunday, May 1, and is included in regular admission price.

Caro Nan honors the two women, Carolyn McDaniel and Nancy Steele, behind the handmade basket purses that were all the rage in American fashion from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. Distinguished by their hand-painted and decoupage custom street scenes of cities across the country, these purses are instantly recognizable. Visitors are invited to reflect on the women who made these nostalgic accessories as well as the women in their own lives who carried them.

The exhibit draws from the collections of three Little Rock women, Becky Major, Angela Norton, and Anita Davis. Visitors can view an array of Caro Nan purses, along with additional special exhibit items that highlight these nostalgic pieces.

ESSE Purse Museum & Store is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. General admission is $10 and student, senior (60+), and military admission is $8. Ask us about group rates.

ESSE16_Purseona event page-2

Purse-onas photo exhibit by Jason Travis

Jan. 13, 2015 through March 13, 2016

 

The staff at ESSE couldn’t be happier to showcase Travis’ work, which features photo portraits of people of all ages above a photo of each person’s bag or purse and its contents, offering an intimate look into the lives of others.

In conjunction with the exhibit’s opening, ESSE will resume “The ESSE Purse Project,” an online exhibit of visitors’ and other willing participants’ purses/briefcases/backpacks and their contents.

The beautiful photos by Jason Travis seem tailor-made for the purse museum’s permanent exhibit, “What’s Inside: A Century of Women and Handbags.” The permanent exhibit focuses on the 20th-century American woman and her development, as shown through handbags and their contents. Travis’ photos (and “The ESSE Purse Project’) bring the concept into the current decade – and include men.

Purse-onas and ESSE go together as well as your mother’s matching purse and shoes. Don’t miss the chance to see them together!

Purse-onas by Jason Travis runs Wednesday, Jan. 13, through Sunday, March 13. ESSE Purse Museum & Store is open from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. everyday but Monday.

Oh,What Fun!

Tuesday, Nov. 17, through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016

Oh, What Fun! A Very Vintage Holiday, a temporary exhibit, at ESSE Purse Museum will open Tuesday, Nov. 17, and run through Sunday, Jan. 3, 2016.ESSE Purse Museum& Store is located at 1510 Main St. in SoMa in Little Rock.

A Very Vintage Holiday will offer a plethora of items from Christmases past, with decorations and ornaments from turn of the 20th century antiques to mid-century modern kitsch. Come see what you remember from your own life while enjoying what your grandparents and beyond might have displayed.

It’s sure to be fun for visitors of all ages.

Regular museum admission of $10 ($8 seniors, military, and students; children under 5 years of age are free) includes the special exhibit. Regular museum and store hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

Pinafores, Purses and Pigtails

Tuesday, Jun 16, 2015 through Saturday, Oct 31, 2015

For the young and young at heart, ESSE Purse Museum will offer a festive blast from years past! Pinafores, Purse & Pigtails will feature vintage little girls’ purses, toys, photos and pinafores, of course, as well as other fun items of note from a time when little girls didn’t necessarily dream of being princesses but did want to be like Mommy.

But that didn’t mean little girls weren’t spunky; they also wore their hair in pigtails and got their bare feet dirty – and climbed trees with boys – which this exhibit also celebrates.

What a great way to beat the summer heat; just duck into the cool confines of the ESSE Purse Museum to be transported to a simpler time.

Common ThreadsCommon Threads: A special exhibit woven of four parts

 

Come be touched, tickled and amazed as weave your way through the works and collections of four different women: Pamela Nelson’s Circles of Life; Chelsye Mae Garrett’s Inspiration Is 87% Perspiration; Donna Ward’s Sew Much Fun; and Florine Thomason’s The Art of the Button.

And be sure to bring some buttons of your own to take part in the interactive communal art project, Button, Button, Who’s Got the Button?!

masks1rhwhlwithandwithoutrhwhl: Contemporary Tribal Masks

The free exhibit, on display in Esse’s conference room, coincides with the SoMa Mardi Gras parade and celebration Saturday, Feb. 14. As special bonuses for this exhibit, Kwendeche will give two artist’s talks, the first at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 14, after the parade and festivities, and another at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 22 – mark your calendars for one – or both!

The cryptic title, “rhwhlwithandwithoutrhwhl,” refers to a main component of some of the uber-contemporary African tribal masks – some are made from found objects, with Recycled Hot Water Heater Lids (rhwhl) as the base. Others do not have the recycled lids, thus the “withoutrhwhl” part of the name.

These giant masks, which are so unusual that words can’t do them justice, are also available for purchase. Come see them – and prepare to be amazed!

ESSE14_Barbie-Poster_smBarbie: The Vintage Years, 1959-1972

ESSE’s second temporary exhibit showcased vintage Barbies ranging from 1959 to 1972. The exhibit featured the many incarnations of Barbie and her ever-changing fashions during the golden years. Her friends Midge, Skipper, Julia and Christy, as well as Barbie’s doting Ken, complement the exhibit. ESSE’s reflection on this American icon ran from September 28, 2014 until January 4, 2014, and is included in regular admission price.

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Handbags for Hillary

This temporary exhibit featured handbags given to Hillary Clinton while she served as First Lady of the United States. From handmade to haute couture, the exhibit offered a glimpse into the political journey of Mrs. Clinton, from her days as first lady of Arkansas to her life at the most powerful address in the world.

ESSE’s third special exhibit of the year ran in conjunction with other citywide activities in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Clinton Presidential Library. It also marked our first collaboration with our downtown neighbors, the William J. Clinton Presidential Library. “Handbags for Hillary” ran October 14, 2014, until November 30, 2014, and was included in regular admission price.

Milliners-Art-Poster_smThe Milliner’s Art: Vintage Hats circa 1910-1960

Once upon a time, a well-dressed woman wouldn’t be caught without her hat and gloves. Those days may be gone, but we celebrated the chapeau with our first temporary exhibit, “The Milliner’s Art.” The exhibit covered seven decades of hat history and was curated from the collections of Anita Davis and Catherine Nugent. Hatpins and accessories from the collection of Marsha Stone add the tiniest of details, and the fashionably festive display made it a don’t-miss exhibit. This inaugural exhibit opened Sunday, April 6, 2014 and ran through Sunday, June 8, 2014, and was accompanied by a tea and scones reception on opening day.