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Museum event is all heart

By Jennifer Nixon

This article was published February 6, 2014 at 3:15 a.m.


The Old State House Museum hosts a Valentine Fair, the first in several years, this Saturday with plenty of hands-on crafts for children of all ages.

The Old State House Museum’s 1885 House of Representatives Chamber was once full of politicians, debate and bluster. Saturday it will be full of hearts, flowers and some very busy children. It’s almost Valentine’s Day and the museum is throwing a Valentine Fair.

The museum’s education director, Georganne Sisco, says, “If you’re looking for something to do with your kids, it’s free. We don’t charge. Not only can they come and spend some time with their family and do hands-on activities, they can also see the museum if they haven’t visited here before.”

It has been several years since the museum hosted a Valentine-themed activity.

“We like to do seasonal family programs throughout the year,” Sisco says. “We thought it might be fun to do Valentine’s this year.”

They’ve got “a whole slew” of activities for the fair’s return with Valentine’s Day projects for all ages. There will be games, like a heart toss and Valentine Bingo, but most of what’s planned is of the hands on, craft-making variety.

Naturally, guests can make Valentine cards. They’ll also be able to make paper chains, bead bracelets and a few other crafts.

And, says Sisco, age doesn’t matter: “The beauty of many of these activities is that you can make them as complicated or as easy as you want them to be. We chose these because they allow for a lot of self-interpretation.”

A toddler or pre-schooler can make a very simple card or bracelet while an older child can get a bit more elaborate and creative.

Because this is a history museum, there will be a historical component. Everyone who comes will receive a handout with information on the history of Valentine’s Day and some of the more traditional crafts, Sisco says, adding, “But a lot of it will just be fun.”

Once families have tried their hands at all the crafts, they’re welcome to explore the museum and its exhibits, like “Lights! Camera! Arkansas,” a look at the relationship between Arkansas and the film industry, or the collections of period furniture and items belonging to Arkansas’ governors through the years.

Fair planners hope it will bring in new visitors and create new interest in the museum’s mission.

“We want our museum to be a place that people want to visit again and again,” Sisco says. “They enjoy coming. They learn something. They have a good time, they’ll come back. I think doing events like the Valentine Fair, that reinforces that.”

The Valentine Fair is 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday at the Old State House Museum, 300 W. Markham St. Admission is free. Call (501) 324-9685 or visit

Weekend, Pages 35 on 02/06/2014

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