Rogers Historical Museum was created in 1974 by local
citizens who were concerned about the loss of their
heritage. At the suggestion of councilwoman Opal Beck,
the Rogers City Council chose the creation of a museum as
Rogersí Bicentennial project. A nine-member commission
was charged with developing the museum, with Vera Key as the
An auxiliary organization, the Friends of the Museum, was
also created to support the commissioners in their task of
creating and staffing the facility. On October 25,
1975, the Rogers Historical Museum opened in a 1905 former
bank building with a major public event. In those early days
the museum was largely a volunteer project, with a part-time
clerk as the only paid staff member.
In 1982 the museum moved from its rented space to the
Hawkins House, which became the property of the City of
Rogers through the generosity of Mr. and Mrs. Harold Hawkins
and family, who partially donated the home. The first
director, Marianne Woods, was hired that same year.
Much of the collection had to be put in storage after the
move to the Hawkins House, which at 1,000 square feet was
much smaller than the museumís original location. In
1985 the Friends began a successful campaign for funds for a
new 5,600-square-foot addition, which was named in honor of
Vera Key. Groundbreaking began in December 1986, and
the museum reopened on December 5, 1987.
The opening of the new addition began a period of continued
expansion. The size of the staff grew, as did the
collections and the number of exhibits and programs. In 1995
the museum expanded into the old public library building at
the corner of Second and Poplar Streets, which houses the
museumís education offices and classroom as well as
collections and general storage. That same year the
museum reopened the Hawkins House after a restoration
project which received a commendation from the Victorian
Society in America.
Throughout its history the museum has been repeatedly
recognized for the excellence of its exhibits, publications,
and programs. But the most meaningful recognition of all was
the awarding of accreditation by the American Alliance of
Museums in 1999. One of only seven accredited museums in the
State of Arkansas, the museum achieved reaccreditation in
In 2006 the museum began planning for an eventual expansion.
By early in 2010 architectural plans, an interpretive plan,
and a feasibility study had all been completed. A
capital campaign is anticipated to begin as early as the end
of 2011, with groundbreaking possible as early as 2013.