The patrons of the Clinton House Museum aren’t always local beer drinkers.
Those chasing down the best of Northwest Arkansas’ craft beer scene via the Fayetteville Ale Trail program aren’t always stopping in museums.
But what if, for six nights this year, those worlds made a complete crossover?
It’s the idea behind the History Happy Hour, a new program that kicks off Tuesday (Feb. 19) at the Clinton House Museum near the University of Arkansas campus in Fayetteville. A series of six programs will highlight historical events, such as a tour famed musician Johnny Cash took through Fayetteville in September 1968.
Clinton House Museum director Angie Albright said the idea for the happy hour events came from a desire to increase local traffic to the museum. Some 75 percent of the museum’s visitors come from out of state, meaning there’s a large local population that isn’t visiting the Clinton House Museum. The museum occupies the home that former U.S. President Bill Clinton and his wife, former Secretary of State and U.S. Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, shared when they lived in Fayetteville. They were married in the living room of the home in 1975.
Several museums offer happy hour events like the one that debuts locally on Tuesday, and Albright said a friend’s similar offering at a museum in Pennsylvania directly inspired the idea. With the Clinton House Museum and the Fayetteville Ale Trail both falling under the umbrella of Experience Fayetteville, the partnership just made sense, Albright said.
Each of the six events feature a different theme. The Feb. 19 event is called “Wear Your Politics” and asks those who attend to wear the political iconography they are proud of. As a museum that’s historical, not political, Albright said each of the events will be nonpartisan in nature. The History Happy Hour events also allow the Clinton Museum to dig into their archives. A vest like the one a museum staff member will wear during a fashion show on Tuesday doesn’t make much sense as a standalone document. But it fits perfectly for such an event.
“It’s the kind of thing that doesn’t make sense to just put on a mannequin,” Albright said. “But it seemed to be a shame to keep it in a closet.”
Albright said the museum staff will raid the archive for all History Happy Hour events. They are designed to be pop-in events, and each one comes with a pour from the featured brewery. Tuesday’s event features beer from Apple Blossom Brewery.
Ideally, that solves two concurrent problems: getting people to take in some history and making sure people learn while taking in a pint.
“I want us to feel relevant, and feel like a resource,” Albright said.
The History Happy Hour programs include:
Feb. 19: Wear Your Politics
Includes a fashion show where participants – both museum staff an visitors – can show off their political fashion.
April 9: Joke’s on You, Mr. President
With cartoons and lighter moments from the Oval Office, including “Saturday Night Live” clips lampooning past presidents.
May 14: First Ladies Night
The event will feature a quiz about the First Ladies and, weather permitting, a visit of the museum’s First Ladies Garden, where the favorite flower of each of the nation’s first ladies have been planted.
July 9: In Celebration of Dickson Street
Honoring the quirks of the entertainment district of Fayetteville and its colorful characters.
Sept. 17: Man in Black
On the 51st anniversary of a trip Johnny Cash made to Fayetteville will be a special program honoring the famed Arkansas native. This happy hour event coincides with the display of the traveling exhibit “1968: A Folsom Redemption,” which will be at the museum from Sept. 1 to Oct. 20.
Nov. 12: Election Night Watch Party
There isn’t a major election in 2019, so this party relives past election nights and also looks forward to future ones, complete with a voting registration effort.
Admission to any of the History Happy Hour events is $5. The events run from 6-8 p.m.