As one of three purse museums in the world, ESSE automatically falls in the rarity bag, but as a social history museum, ESSE is so much more than fashionable pocketbooks. The permanent exhibit tells the story of the 20th-century woman via the things she carried – and the purses into which she placed them – carrying visitors to ESSE Purse Museum back in time, decade by decade.
Was it really just under 100 years ago that women gained the right to vote? Oh, my gosh, did girls really have to haul those contraptions around? My mother had a purse just like that!
ESSE’s fabulous new temporary exhibit, You May Kiss the Bride: 8 Decades of Dream- filled Dresses, features eight wedding gowns from the early 1900s through the 1980s, and, of course, swatches of history to go with each era. The dresses, accoutrements, photos, and other nuptial paraphernalia are sure to bring a smile and possibly a tear or two.
The bridal extravaganza, which runs through Sunday, Aug. 19, also features an interactive component, a “guest book” in which visitors may share their funny or horrific memories of hideous bridesmaids’ dresses or matrimonial mishaps.
Be sure to allow plenty of time for The Store at Esse, another informational art
experience, with handcrafted and artisanal purses, one-of-a-kind jewelry, products that empower women in developing nations, and more.
ESSE Purse Museum is located at 1510 Main St. in Little Rock. Call (501) 916-9022 for ticket information, questions about groups, or directions. ESSE is open 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.