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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
JoJo

A hidden gem! Worth taking the time to check it out. They were very helpful in answering any... read more

Reviewed yesterday
Bill_J42012
,
Pryor, Oklahoma
via mobile
First Visit to a Museum focused on Purses

Well we have live in Little Rock since 2001 which pre-dates the opening of Esse. We have thought... read more

Reviewed 1 week ago
JKeller459
,
Little Rock, Arkansas
Read all 158 reviews
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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%
Travellers talk about
“for sale” (14 reviews)
“gift shop” (24 reviews)
“display case” (4 reviews)
Closed Now
Hours
Hours Today: 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Suggested Duration: < 1 hour
LOCATION
1510 Main St, Little Rock, AR 72202-5038
CONTACT
Website
+1 501-916-9022
Write a ReviewReviews (158)
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"for sale"
in 14 reviews
"gift shop"
in 24 reviews
"display case"
in 4 reviews
"gift items"
in 4 reviews
"delightful surprise"
in 2 reviews
"women and men"
in 2 reviews
"unusual things"
in 2 reviews
"down memory lane"
in 3 reviews
"nice trip"
in 2 reviews
"local artisans"
in 2 reviews
"capital hotel"
in 2 reviews
"interesting items"
in 2 reviews
"united states"
in 3 reviews
"temporary exhibits"
in 2 reviews
"special exhibit"
in 2 reviews
"worth a stop"
in 2 reviews
"clinton library"
in 5 reviews
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1 - 10 of 155 reviews

Reviewed yesterday via mobile

A hidden gem! Worth taking the time to check it out. They were very helpful in answering any questions concerning the exhibits.

Thank Bill_J42012
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 1 week ago

Well we have live in Little Rock since 2001 which pre-dates the opening of Esse. We have thought touring for years and we finally decided to visit last Saturday and we are glad we did it. I never thought exhibits on purses, handbags, fashion, etc....More

Thank JKeller459
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 1 week ago

What a wonderful review! We are so glad that you were able to come visit us! Our temporary exhibits are changed out seasonally and the store gets new merchandise weekly- so there is always something new to see.

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Reviewed 1 week ago via mobile

The Esse Purse Museum is AMAZING! The staff is totally informative and so friendly. The store has very unique purses and bags... It Is More than worth the trip.

Thank curlygirl0525
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 1 week ago

Thanks so much for your review! We hope to see you again soon!

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Reviewed 1 week ago

My husband really wanted to visit while we were in Little Rock. It was an incredible collection of handbags and trinkets from women's purses. I really enjoyed the wedding collection that was on display when we went. My teenage daughters enjoyed the exhibits as well...More

Thank mamachickto4
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 1 week ago

So glad that you and your family were able to visit! We hope you visit us the next time you are in town to see what is new.

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Reviewed 4 weeks ago via mobile

Featuring American purses from early American Indian through the ‘20s to the present, the museum is a delightful surprise. It’s a treat for all ages and a fascinating presentation of pieces of history not traditionally depicted. Plan on spending about two hours there given that...More

1  Thank evb543
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 1 week ago

What a great review! We are glad you enjoyed your visit and hope to see you again soon.

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Reviewed 9 June 2018

This is the only purse museum in the United States. Although it is small, it is jam packed with purses and other items on display divided into decades. It is really fun to go with women of all ages - I brought my mom and...More

Thank elizabethmarrero1123
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 9 June 2018

We always love when families come to visit us and we are glad we could help bring back memories. We hope you will visit us again soon.

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Reviewed 6 June 2018 via mobile

Went to this museum as a break from heavier historical topics. It turned out to be very informative about the role of purses in women’s economic independence. The gift shop is well worth a stop too. And the ladies working there were knowledgeable and delightful.

Thank Lydia C
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 9 June 2018

So glad that you enjoyed your visit and thank you for taking the time to write a review.

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Reviewed 31 May 2018

The purse museum (one of only three in the world) will fascinate anyone interested in women's history or gender studies as well as those who just think fashion is fun. This small, well-curated museum has an extremely friendly and competent staff. Great for a friends'...More

Thank travellisima
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 6 June 2018

Thanks so much for your wonderful review! We are so glad you enjoyed your visit and hope to see you again soon.

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Reviewed 28 May 2018

This museum is small, but very well organized and interesting. The purses on display range over 100 years, and represent only a fraction of the founder's collection, so can change often. The exhibits are grouped by decade, with an overall description of the years represented,...More

Thank vlc_12
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 6 June 2018

Thank you for your review! We are glad to hear that you enjoyed your visit and your time in the SoMa neighborhood.

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Reviewed 6 May 2018

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 19 May 2018

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
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