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“Unexpected and enjoyable.”
Review of Esse Purse Museum

Esse Purse Museum
Ranked #13 of 97 things to do in Little Rock
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Recommended length of visit: <1 hour
Owner description: Dedicated purse museums in the world are rare jewels of history: Amsterdam, Seoul and Little Rock claim the distinction of being home to the three brick-and-mortar galleries in existence. ESSE Purse Museum at 1510 Main in the SoMa district of Little Rock opened its doors in late June 2013 to share what's inside the fabulous exhibit featuring over 500 artifacts. More than a fashion history, the museum showcases a compelling narrative of the 20th-century American woman - decade by decade - through the bags she carried and the contents within. The delightful displays of purses are complemented by carefully selected items women from each era carried - true history held in a handbag. Small photos in the displays and enormous backlit photos on the north wall show real women with their personal bags. Three cozy dioramas - "Nothing's More Natural Than Skin," "By Land, Sea or Air" and "A Night on the Town" - feature specialty purses, and a large, whimsical art installation addresses the essence of a woman, her handbag and the contents within. ESSE, which grew out of a traveling exhibit selected from owner Anita Davis' extensive collection of bags, is a privately-owned museum housed in a historic building in an up-and-coming, hip neighborhood, close to other world famous attractions like Central High School (the only school that is a national park) and the William J. Clinton Presidential Center and Park. More than just a trip down memory lane or history lesson, ESSE Purse Museum is a don't-miss experience. Museum hours are 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. on Sunday. Admission is $10, $8 for students (6-18), seniors (60 and up) and military. Children 5 and younger are free. Call for group rates and special tours.
Reviewed 22 March 2014

This is an amazing display. Interesting items--beautifully arranged and lighted. The displays are a history of the 20th century through purses AND THE THINGS THAT ARE CARRIED IN THEM. We went because we enjoy fashion and collect vintage clothing, but this was so much more.

Thank jaejae
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LauraCHardy, Guest Relations Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 24 March 2014

Thank you, thank you, for taking time to do such a nice, concise review – and for helping us spread our message that women's history is carried in handbags. We're so glad you came in.

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113 - 117 of 138 reviews

Reviewed 21 March 2014

The museum was well-put together, very handicap accessible for my mother who was on crutches, very interesting and unique (and we have traveled all over the country and seen many different museums), the information was presented in a very neat and orderly manner. Overall, the staff was very passionate, the collection was interesting, the price was not bad for the amount of stuff you get to see. And the shop is very cute.

Thank kcals
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LauraCHardy, Guest Relations Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 22 March 2014

Thank you so much for your kind review. We enjoyed having you and are so glad you were pleased with your visit.

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Reviewed 16 February 2014

Quite the sleeper of a museum. We found it due to other comments on TripAdvisor. The purse collection is well curated and paints a personal history of women in the 20th Century. Recommended (especially for gals!).

Thank swannygal
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LauraCHardy, Guest Relations Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 17 February 2014

Thank you so much for taking time to give us such a nice review. And what a treat to have visitors from San Francisco!

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Reviewed 5 February 2014

In Little Rock for a visit to the in-laws in February 2014, and we decided to try this out as something a little different. Very professionally done, strangely fascinating displays by decade of purses and their even more fascinating "typical contents". The prose describing each exhibit is lively and fun and very well done. Very fun family bonding to go with women of different ages, as we all remembered different bags and contents and told each other stories about a purse we'd had "just like that one!" and what memories extended from that. There's also a place you can weigh your purse and sign in--a fun variation on the museum exhibit guest book. The "typical contents" part of the exhibits I think provided some interest for the male visitors, some (but not all, obviously) of whom may not have the same fondness or nostalgia for purses of times past as the female visitors.

Thank Epiann
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LauraCHardy, Guest Relations Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 7 February 2014

We're so happy to hear how you enjoyed your visit! Thank you for taking time to review us. It's so rewarding to hear stories of families bonding in our museum – especially members of both sexes. Visitors like you make our work even more rewarding.

We hope to see you again.

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Reviewed 16 January 2014

I had the opportunity to visit this wonderful unique museum with a new friend back in Sep 2013. I heard museum and expected something along a normal vein of history. Esse provides a different view into women's history through what is now a very common accessory. It was the start of a very memorable adventure in Little Rock - I highly recommend this as a must see. I will definitely enjoy returning here in the future!

Thank Tina474
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
LauraCHardy, Guest Relations Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 18 January 2014

Thank you, so much, Tina, for taking time to review ESSE so nicely. We're honored to have had you as a guest and are so glad to hear we exceeded your expectations! We look forward to your return visit.

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