Our Mission is to Preserve, Protect and Educate About the Art & Life of John Bell, Jr.
About The John Bell, Jr. Legacy Project
This past year, the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum was gifted not only a significant acquisition of art and artifacts, but more so, a legacy. John Bell, Jr., local artist and native son to Fort Smith, Arkansas, is remembered as a prolific and popular artist throughout the 20th century. He is best known for his charming land and cityscapes, particularly those that feature important structures around Fort Smith, Van Buren, and Eureka Springs, Arkansas.
To celebrate this gift of art to our museum and to honor one of Fort Smith’s most famous artists, the John Bell, Jr. Legacy Project was created at RAM. The purpose of this project is simple; to preserve, protect and educate about the art and life of John Bell, Jr. Under the umbrella of this project, RAM is developing unique programs that exhibit and interpret the artist’s work, provide educational programs and lectures that explore Bell’s techniques and historical context, and create presentations for community outreach to school, church, and community groups. We will fund the project with fundraising opportunities via special events and by creating the John Bell, Jr. Legacy Society. Unique products will be developed and made available in our museum store using Bell’s artwork. The funds will also be used to conserve, store and protect the large collection of his artwork and studio artifacts for generations to come.
One may ask what all this means for the public and museum patrons. The impact of this project represents the preservation of local history for all to enjoy. RAM will now be the forever “home” of John Bell, Jr., meaning all of his previously unseen work will now have the opportunity to be studied and enjoyed at the museum and online. RAM will hold exhibitions and have John Bell, Jr.’s work displayed in our Permanent Collection gallery. The Legacy Project allows all to engage, share, and interpret John’s art and his impact. There will be increased marketing and publishing that builds awareness and excitement, displaying regional pride. If visitors so choose, they can purchase authentic John Bell, Jr. prints from the museum store. We will begin and maintain a recorded oral history project to preserve stories about the artist with those who are still alive to help us remember for the future.
The project is an exciting time for RAM that allows growth and development; the entire region benefits when an institution can preserve history. Here at the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum, we are proud to bring you the John Bell, Jr. Legacy Project and hope you will join us in appreciating and celebrating the new home of John Bell, Jr.