Here at ESSE, we’re always striving to bring new and interesting exhibits on the objects, moments, and memories that make up part of the American woman’s story. Take a moment to check out what we currently have housed here at the museum.

Check back later this month for a new exhibit announcement.


January 30, 2018 – April 29, 2018

ESSE Purse Museum is excited to announce a new temporary exhibit Exposed: Unmentionables, 1900s-1960s, which opens Tuesday, January 30, 2018. The exhibit runs through Sunday, April 29, and is included in regular admission price.

Typically not displayed for all to view, undergarments offer a unique view into a woman’s life and the measures she will take to achieve a certain look. This exhibit aims to showcase the evolving perceptions of the ideal female figure and the contraptions it takes to achieve it.

Pain is beauty, or is it? Certainly every woman has experienced the discomfort of a binding undergarment, but the pain inflicted by these present-day garments is minor compared to what women were expected to endure. As we look back to the early 1900s, typically restrictive foundation garments are beginning to be designed with a woman’s well being in mind. The invention of new materials and evolving beauty ideals led to less of a reliance on these garments to mold a woman’s body and more on them to enhance the beauty that is innately present.

The exhibit includes items on loan from the Old Sate House Museum and UA Little Rock Theater Arts & Dance Department.

ESSE 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 about group rates.