Twenty-five years ago, first lady Hillary Clinton and Smithsonian curator Michael Monroe chose 73 works by top America artisans for exhibition in the White House. Congress and the George H.W. Bush administration had proclaimed 1993 as “The Year of American Craft: A Celebration of the Creative Works of the Hand.” It must have been, in that day and time, that Congress wasn’t worried about offending people who believe art is elitist and that honoring work by a previous administration, rather than demeaning it, was possible.

After the work graced the rooms of the White House, an exhibition of “The White House Collection of American Crafts” traveled the country for display at national venues, including the Arkansas Arts Center’s Decorative Arts Museum in the Terry Mansion. On Monday, Sept. 17, the Clinton Presidential Center will exhibit the collection, the first time it’s been shown in 18 years.


Here’s what Secretary Clinton says in a press release from the Clinton Center about assembling the collection:

“When President Clinton, Chelsea and I moved into the White House more than 25 years ago, we realized that we were temporary residents of a 200-year-old museum that belonged, and still belongs, to the American people. We thought it was fitting that the ‘people’s house’ become a showcase for one of the nation’s oldest cultural forms. And we wanted to make sure the White House continued to reflect the vital role that art and culture have played in our democracy for more than two centuries.”

In advance of the show, the Clinton Museum Store will host a pop-up shop on Saturday and Sunday featuring fine contemporary craft, most by Arkansas artists. Participating artists include Gwen Bennett of Eureka Springs; Merideth Boswell of Fayetteville; Stephen Driver and Louise Halsey of Ozark; James Hayes of Pine Bluff; Sage Holland of Fox; Lewis Lloyd and Jerry Lovenstein of Mountain View; Thomas Mann of New Orleans; Korto Momolu, Jennifer Perren and Bryant Phelan of Little Rock; Leon Niehues of Huntsville; Julie Powell of Boulder, Colo.; and Erica Rosenfeld of Brooklyn, N.Y. Each works in a different medium: metal, ceramics, blown glass and glass jewelry, beads and beadwork, dresses, leatherwork, basketry, feather creations and brooms.


Store hours are 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 1-5 p.m. Sunday.