Historical Museum open house draws crowd
The Bella Vista Historical Museum was a busy place on Thursday. Between 4 and 7 p.m., 92 people visited the museum. It was the night of the annual open house. Many of the visitors went home with door prizes donated by local businesses.
The all-volunteer museum is an independent nonprofit operated by the Bella Vista Historical Society. Exhibits cover the history of Bella Vista from early Indian settlements to present day. Many of the exhibits concentrate on the last 100 years — after the first Bella Vista resort was founded through the 1960s when John Cooper Sr. came to town and bought farmland all the way up to the Missouri line. The incorporation that turned the “village” into a city in 2007 is covered, along with Lake Bella Vista, Wonderland Cave and the old Sunset Hotel.
This year, an exhibit about Fay Jones, the architect who designed both the Country Club building and Cooper Chapel, has been popular. It’s a traveling exhibit which will move on later this year.
Xyta Lucas, president of the Historical Society, credits the Fay Jones exhibit with bringing many new visitors to the museum.
From January to the end of September, 2,482 visitors were recorded. In 2017 that number was 1,868, and in 2016 it was 1,576, Lucas said.
The board’s goal for the year was to sign up 100 members, and it will probably reach that this month, Lucas said.
She’s also looking forward to a new exhibit. An old cabin was donated to the museum and a foundation is being prepared so it can be moved to its new home. A GoFundMe account was set up to help pay to move the cabin.
During the annual open house, Melissa Kendus shows members of the Bella Vista History Museum’s board of directors, John Flynn (left) and Steve Morrow, a slide show about the Wonderland Cave. She and her husband, Nick Kendus, helped clean out the cave over the last several years.