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Esse Purse Museum

1510 Main St, Little Rock, AR 72202-5038
+1 501-916-9022
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Review Highlights
A Purse for Every Occasion

We loved this small museum! It is organized in decades and we had so much fun remembering our... read more

Reviewed 2 weeks ago
Susan475605
,
Memphis, Tennessee
Women's history through accessories!

I loved, loved, LOVED this museum. The collection is huge and eclectic, and at the time I was... read more

Reviewed April 15, 2018
Elizabeth K
,
San Jose, California
Read all 149 reviews
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Overview
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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.
  • Excellent74%
  • Very good18%
  • Average8%
  • Poor0%
  • Terrible0%
Travelers talk about
“for sale” (14 reviews)
“gift shop” (21 reviews)
“women and men” (2 reviews)
Closed Now
Hours
Hours Today: 11:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Suggested Duration: < 1 hour
LOCATION
1510 Main St, Little Rock, AR 72202-5038
CONTACT
Website
+1 501-916-9022
Write a ReviewReviews (149)
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All reviews
"for sale"
in 14 reviews
"gift shop"
in 21 reviews
"women and men"
in 2 reviews
"display case"
in 3 reviews
"unusual things"
in 2 reviews
"last century"
in 2 reviews
"gift items"
in 2 reviews
"local artisans"
in 2 reviews
"capital hotel"
in 2 reviews
"temporary exhibits"
in 2 reviews
"united states"
in 2 reviews
"special exhibit"
in 2 reviews
"self guided tour"
in 2 reviews
"worth the trip"
in 2 reviews
"clinton library"
in 5 reviews
"great place to visit"
in 2 reviews
"contents"
in 26 reviews
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1 - 10 of 146 reviews

Reviewed 2 weeks ago

We loved this small museum! It is organized in decades and we had so much fun remembering our purses and our mother's purses. There is even a scale to weigh your own purse and guidelines for what it should really weigh. Fun, ladies! There is...More

Thank Susan475605
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ally W, Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 4 days ago

Thanks so much for your wonderful review! We hope you come back to see our different temporary exhibits and new arrivals in the gift shop.

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed 15 April 2018

I loved, loved, LOVED this museum. The collection is huge and eclectic, and at the time I was there, there was an exhibit of undergarments, which was neat to see. The museum uses accessories to tell women's history, with a display case and explanatory sign...More

Thank Elizabeth K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ally W, Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Thank you so much for your wonderful review! We are so glad you enjoyed your visit. If you remember, please let us know what site had the incorrect hours- we would love to fix that. We hope you visit us again soon.

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Reviewed 2 April 2018

Excellent museum which shows much more than just purses. A lot of historic photos and other little things. Don't miss it!

Thank Markus M
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ally W, Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 4 weeks ago

Thank you so much for your review, Markus. We hope you come back and see us soon!

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed 31 March 2018

This museum and store is really easy to overlook but don't! It's so interesting, visually compelling and stylish, with purses/fashion through the ages from Victorian times to the present. After the museum, be sure to shop at the store for all sort of gifts and...More

Thank davidcallum
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ally W, Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 2 April 2018

Thank you so much for your wonderful review! We are so glad that you didn't overlook us and enjoyed both the museum AND store. Please come back and see what is new the next time you are in town.

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Reviewed 18 March 2018

This was much more enjoyable than I anticipated. The displays are the result of 30 years worth of collecting, and the pieces span from 1910 to current. A lot of pictures of women (both African American and white) in Little Rock and elsewhere, over the...More

1  Thank kmk38138
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ally W, Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 20 March 2018

We are so glad that you enjoyed your visit! We are sorry that you missed our souvenirs- we do have postcards, magnets, and keychains available as well as a wide range of bags and jewelry. Our temporary exhibits change out seasonally, so we hope you...More

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A TripAdvisor Member
1
Reviewed 18 March 2018 via mobile

Came for the Clinton presidential museum but found this also! we loved it ❤️❤️❤️❤️ really a fun little museum. Then eat lunch at The Root next door👌

Thank A TripAdvisor Member
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ally W, Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 20 March 2018

We are so glad that you found us and enjoyed your visit! Please come back the next time you are in Little Rock.

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Reviewed 17 March 2018 via mobile

This museum was interesting, but $10 admission was a bit expensive for what there was to see. The museum teaches you about women’s history & the evolution of the purse and made me think.More

Thank VivianNL1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ally W, Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 20 March 2018

We are glad we could provide you with thought-provoking exhibits. We are a small, private museum that receives no outside funding and so our ticket sales are really important. If you bring in a ticket stub, you can receive half off admission and we offer...More

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Reviewed 14 March 2018

I'm a local, and heard about this museum. Thought wife would like it. Had a few hours to kill one afternoon and suggested to her that we go. Really nice experience. Staff was great and very helpful. Admission is charged but is very reasonable. It's...More

Thank BrewNQue
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ally W, Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 20 March 2018

We are so glad that you and your wife enjoyed your visit. We have temporary exhibits that change out seasonally and we are always getting new merchandise in the store, so there is always something new to see. We hope to see you both again...More

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Reviewed 3 March 2018 via mobile

Took a walk out to visit the museum and was not disappointed. Staff were friendly and informative and the items on display were fab. Nice little gift shop to browse too. Would defiantly recommend this. My partner also enjoyed himself. He liked to see how...More

Thank PaulH575
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ally W, General Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 6 March 2018

Thank you so much for your review! We are so happy to hear that both of you enjoyed your visit. We hope you come back and see us the next time you are in Little Rock.

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Reviewed 23 February 2018

Interesting Little venue with a lot of original gift items. Love the museum and the history behind it. I wanted to buy everything!

Thank masami f
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Ally W, General Manager at Esse Purse Museum, responded to this reviewResponded 27 February 2018

Thanks Masami! We hope you come back and visit us soon <3

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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