Naturally, the Clinton Museum is the first place you go when you find yourself in Little Rock. I actually went to Esse Purse Museum first because I did my Trip Advisor research before leaving California. My friends and I joked that of course since I love my Prada and other designer purses that this museum was my Mecca. I am so glad that I did visit the museum and meet its incredible founder and owner, Anita Davis. But I was clearly mistaken as to the essence of the museum, and happily so!
First, the museum is located at the end of the three coolest blocks on South of Main Street. I walked from The a Capital Hotel. There were 10 blocks of vacant storefronts. Then, after the bridge, I strolled down three blocks that belong in Berkeley or Hayes Valley near me.... Vintage shops, foodie cafés, homemade ice cream and a public garden. I popped into Moxy's, where it's young hip owner, Jon enchanted me with his array of well selected items. I chose a kitchen mat made out of old firehouses from San Francisco. My first purchase on this weekend trip. Pleased, I sauntered up to the museum, where Jon's lovely wife, Laura, works.
The Purse museum is well curated and lovingly presented. Anita amassed a treasure trove of vintage purses during a lifetime of going to flea markets. She organized them by decade, starting in 1900. Each decade is beautifully displayed in raised glass modern cases accompanied by a lyrical, detailed and witty history of women at that time. The Roaring 20's, for example, brought women a dazzling array of jeweled purses, and their contents were equally glamorous. Just like the popular magazines like Us Weekly spill out the contents of a selected celebrity's purse ( cover girl mascara, lip balm, iPhone etc), the Purse museum shows us the elegant sterling silver cigarette holder, enameled pressed powder case and coin purse that signify the excess of the time. The displays are a fascinating way to explore women's history through the decades.
Another treat is the hat display, a temporary collection that may become permanent. It is a lovely compliment to Anita's purse collection. I was drawn to the colorful feathered hat with a black bird nested on top.
I absolutely love any museum where you enter through the gift shop!!! Anita has an eclectic mix of purses, wallets, messenger bags and jewelry ranging from $3 to $1,500. Tempting silver mesh cuffs, peacock silver mesh handmade evening bag, rubber looped handbags and whimsical wooden clutches.
If you go on a Saturday, ask to meet Anita. She is a powerhouse and woman who single handedly is promoting social justice in her neighborhood. She is creating a sense of community right there on South Main Srtreet. And, she may give you a personal tour of one of The Huffington Post's three top purse museums in the world.
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.