The Shiloh Museum is celebrating 50 years of sharing the story of the region
Nestled inside downtown Springdale is one of the oldest museums in Arkansas. The Shiloh Museum, named after the town’s original name, is celebrating its 50th year. The museum has a proud history of displaying the real heroes of Ozarks history, average men and women, the pioneers of the region.
Museum director Allyn Lord has adopted the Ozarks as her home and has a true passion for the history. Allyn beamed with excitement when describing the purpose of the museum.
“Everyone has their own story,” Allyn said. “You can’t have the big story without all the little ones.”
As the museum is celebrates its anniversary, special exhibits and activities are planned throughout the year. The museum’s official birthday is in Sept. 7, and the museum is has planned a few large free celebrations. There will be a family-friendly event and an adult-friendly one as well.
The most recent activity going on at the museum is the “Canoe of One Community.”
Springdale and the Ozarks are one of the largest populations of Marshallese outside of the Marshall Islands in the Pacific Ocean. The United States has an agreement establishing and governing the relationships of free association between three Pacific Island nations of the Federated States of Micronesia, the Marshall Islands, and Palau. The Marshall Islands at one time was a U.S. nuclear test site.
Many Marshallese students in the Springdale School District are at least a generation removed from the islands. A Springdale resource officer, who is half Marshallese, reached out the museum to incorporate Marshallese history activities for those students.
The Shiloh Museum was on board with this idea, and it teaches school groups about Ozark History vs. Marshall Island History.
“They compare and contrast the lives of the students’ ancestors,” Allyn said.
“Canoe of One Community,” a live activity, where Master Carver Liton Beasa, who moved to the United States in 2013 from the Marshall Islands, is carving a canoe, in permeative forms, like on the islands. Many young men in the Marshallese Community have become involved with Liton’s project and are learning from him.
The women also got involved. They had tree fibers from the islands shipped to the museum. They used shell casings to beat and shape the fibers, like they do on the islands and they weaved a sail.
Early summer is also a debut for a long time project of the museum. The Shiloh Meeting Hall, a large white two-story building, adjacent to the Razorback Greenway Trail on Huntsville Avenue, is planned to be opened to the public.
This historic building built in 1871 was given to the city, ultimately the museum, in 2005. After a long 12-year restoration processes, the building was completed in the summer of 2017. After the exterior ground improvements are finished, the main floor is planned to be open to the public. The meeting space will be used for museum classes and different group meetings.
There are six other historic buildings on-site, including a post office and general store. The ground will make the visitor relaxed with the park-like atmosphere of mature trees and historic buildings nestled next to Spring Creek.
Knowing the history of home gives a greater closeness, knowing the historic reasons for why things are.
Allyn said she loves to learn and is fascinated by the Ozarks even though she is not a native.
“The Who, What, When, of your place, creates and intimacy of knowing your place.”
The Shiloh Museum hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and admission is free.