Lions Club learns about nearby museum

Monday, April 22, 2019
Tess Pruett speaks to the Trumann Lions Club about the new Hampson Archaeolgical State Park Museum in Wilson. (DT Photo/Cosmo Cossey)

Tess Pruett, Supervisor of the Hampson Archaeological State Park Museum in Wilson, was on hand to tell the Trumann Lions Club about the museum at their weekly meeting last Wednesday at the Old Community House in Trumann.

The museum is named after Dr. James Hampson who uncovered a 15 acre village on his farm in the 1930's. The Nodena site dates back to A.D. 1400-1650. The village was located along the Mississippi River in what is now Mississippi County. The collection consists of artifacts and exhibits that tell the story of this early aboriginal population of farmers who cultivated crops and supplemented their food resources with hunting native game while developing its art, religion and political structure along with a thriving trading network.

"The collection was stored in a dirt floor wooden building next to Hampson's house, and when he passed in 1956, his wife became concerned about the collection being in such a building," Pruett said. Mrs. Hampson contacted what was then the Department of Parks and Publicity, about creating a state park as long as the collection stayed in Wilson close to it's original site. The first museum was a 1,700 square foot structure on the outskirts of town Pruett told the group. "In 1961, they thought the building was state of the art," Pruett said. Mrs. Hampson came along with the collection as curator from 1961-1974.

In 2012, the process was started to have a new museum built with the project being finished at the end of 2018. "We went from a 1,7000 square foot hut to a 2,860 square foot facility," Pruett said. "Now that we have a collections management area, we can take care of the artifacts like they need to be," Pruett added.

The gallery of the museum has all new interactive exhibits that are hands on for the guests. "Flip panels, shakers, and monochromatic figures are a few of the next items in the gallery. We just have so much more room," Pruett said. "We also have new cases that display the bottoms of the pottery that have some beautiful paintings on them," Pruett added.

Inside the ceremonial mound, a new case that offers a 360 degree view of the human head effigy, the centerpiece of the museums' collection. "You use to just be able to see the front of the effigy but now you can see the whole head," Pruett said.

"We wanted our new museum to be inclusive as possible so we are the only museum in the state of Arkansas to offer a audio tour to those who are visually impaired or blind. We have touch objects all throughout the gallery that they can feel while hearing about the object. We want to include as many people as we could," Pruett said. The museum also has braille pads.

The museum is open all year, Tuesday-Saturday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 1-5 p.m. They are closed on Monday except for Monday holidays. The museum is also closed for New Year's Day, Thanksgiving Day, and from noon through Christmas Day. Interpretive programs are available year-round.

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