Clinton House Museum to reopen with new hours, exhibits and free admission

Staff photo

The Clinton House Museum this week will open for the first time since the pandemic led to a closure in 2020.

Officials said the museum is scheduled to reopen on Thursday, May 26. After that, operating hours will be 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Stephen Smith, president of the museum’s board of directors, said the pandemic took a major toll on revenue, but with personal donations and funding from the Fayetteville Advertising and Promotion Commission, the board is excited to reopen in the hopefully temporary limited capacity.

“The board is increasing fundraising efforts in 2022 to be able to return to the museum’s previous hours when we were open daily,” Smith said.

While the museum’s was closed to indoor visitors for over a year, guests were able to enjoy the outdoor areas, like the First Ladies’ Garden and the exterior of the home, including the front porch steps which Smith said are a popular destination for tourism photos.

Smith said a lot has happened during the closure.

“We worked to increase the museum’s collections and developed strategic plans for its reopening and future sustainability as one of Fayetteville’s top tourist sites,” Smith said. “We hope visitors who have been before will return to see the additions we’ve made and we look forward to sharing their stories with new visitors.”

The house, located at 930 W. Clinton Drive, was the first home of President Bill Clinton and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. The couple was married in the living room in 1975 while they were both teaching at the University of Arkansas School of Law.

Admission to the house is free, but donations are encouraged.

The museum’s interior is filled with hundreds of collections, including: memorabilia of the Clintons’ campaigns; a timeline of the couple’s Fayetteville years; a theater where visitors can see old political ads; a replica of the “War Room” where Bill Clinton ran his 1976 Attorney General’s campaign; a replica of Hillary Clinton’s wedding dress; family and campaign photographs

The museum was closed in March 2020 because of health concerns due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but reopened with limited hours in September 2020 before closing again after a surge of the virus.

Before the second closure, the commission agreed to wind down financial support for the museum citing shortfalls caused by the pandemic.

Molly Rawn, CEO of Experience Fayetteville and executive director of the commission, said that is still the plan, but the commission will continue to provide limited support while the museum’s board works toward independence.

The commission leases the house from the University of Arkansas, but Rawn said university officials have agreed to waive rent payments through 2023.