In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “a nation’s culture resides in the hearts and in the soul of its people.”
For Arkansans, African American culture resides inside the hallowed halls of the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center in Little Rock. The museum first opened in 2008 at the site of the former Mosaic Templars of America headquarters, a black fraternal organization founded in 1883.
While the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center has been educating Arkansas residents since 2008, it wasn’t until 2017 that they started conversations with our team here at Exhibit Concepts to renovate and upgrade the facilities.
“The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is truly a passion project for not only the people of Arkansas but also us at Exhibit Concepts,” says Project Management Director Bill Martin. “The passion they have for the cultural center caught on and elevated our work and commitment to creating a truly meaningful and unforgettable space.”
Our relationship with the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center would culminate in a massive overhaul of the facility that would create a premier, world-class exhibit space.
Phase I of the project was completed in 2021. It included new exhibitry in the lobby, a museum store, a theater experience, and a children’s gallery.
The process began with a comprehensive interpretive plan through a partnership with Sunni Mercer, of Mercer Associates, Inc. That interpretive plan allowed the team to better understand the project’s scope, messaging, and intent. Once a plan was established, Exhibit Concepts worked with Clements & Associates Architecture, Inc. to bring the renovation and designs to life.
Plans called for a stunning entryway highlighted by a pediment from the original Mosaic Templars building, which burned in 2005. The entry way welcomes guests into the modern space and serves as a reminder of the building’s cultural and historical significance.
Moving from the entryway, visitors are then greeted by an immersive theater. Exhibit Concepts partnered with Northern Light Productions for the 360° experience, which explores African Americans’ past, present, and future in Arkansas.
The theater area includes yet another nod to the original 1800s Mosaic Templars building: a cornerstone from the structure. The artifact further drives home the significance of the cultural center’s setting while providing a backdrop to educate audiences.
Moving from the theater experience, the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center takes a light-hearted turn as visitors are drawn to the Children’s Gallery. While still addressing important subject matter, the children’s gallery welcomes attendees with a mural reading “Same, Different, Amazing!” The interactive and immersive exhibitry allows children to celebrate diversity and uncover cultural differences in a fun, explorative way.
While in the Children’s Gallery, visitors are greeted with several interactives, including cue cards that encourage conversation, a youth theater that promotes imagination and collaboration, and a “Magic Door” that allows children to be transported into diverse and inclusive settings. A 65” touch screen interactive helps guests celebrate our similarities while exploring our differences.
The final aspect of Phase I includes a museum store that features locally made products from across Arkansas. The store allows visitors to explore all The Natural State has to offer while embracing the region’s various cultures.
In 2023, the second and final phase of the Mosaic Templars Cultural is scheduled to open. The project serves as an encore to the work finished in 2021.
The highlight of Phase II includes a large, immersive experience dedicated to the history and culture of The African American Arkansan Experience. The exhibit will include several interactives as well as custom graphics.
Exhibit Concepts is proud to partner with the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center to carry on its legacy in Arkansas. Since our relationship began in 2017, it has been a privilege to work alongside the Department of Parks, Heritage, and Tourism and the Division of Arkansas Heritage to preserve the African American culture.
“Anytime we do a project that can impact a community and tell a cultural story, it’s both exciting and rewarding,” says Account Executive Steven Lowry. “I’m honored to be trusted to help tell this story.”
We look forward to working together with the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center on Phase II and continuing to bring cultural communities together in Arkansas.
To learn more about the project, visit the Project Profile page.