Historical Exhibits at the Institute
The Winthrop Rockefeller Institute's 188-acre campus was once part of Gov. Rockefeller's innovative cattle farm and estate, as were many of our structures — from the distinctive silos rising behind our main lobby to our largest conference space, Show Barn Hall, to the Boathouse on Lake Abby, named after Gov. Rockefeller's mother and one of six lakes and ponds he built on the property.
In fact, the Institute echoes with history. But to explore more deeply, to learn about the sources of those pervasive echoes, we invite our program and conference participants and the general public to visit several exhibits dedicated to the Governor's life and legacy and to the natural and human history of Petit Jean Mountain.
The Legacy Gallery
The 3,000 square-foot Legacy Gallery houses a permanent exhibit titled “Winthrop Rockefeller: a Sphere of Power and Influence Dropped into a River of Need.” The product of an exhaustive survey of some 10,000 photos at the Winthrop Rockefeller Archives at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, the exhibit comprises more than 300 restored and enlarged images making up 180 murals and interpretive panels that tell the story of a truly remarkable man,
of the mountain he called home, and of the struggles and triumphs of the state he came to love during his time here.
Admission to the Legacy Gallery is free and open to the public. Special tours can be arranged for students or groups. Please call 501-727-5435 for more information.
The Legacy Theater
Also located in our main building, the interactive, 26-seat Legacy Theater shows several videos — both historic and documentary — further illuminating Gov. Rockefeller's life and work.
The "1957 Interim Report," a fascinating and surprisingly personal overview of Rockefeller's first years of work at Winrock Farms narrated by Rockefeller himself, offers a unique glimpse into his personality and priorities.
The film, separated into three parts, was made for Rockefeller's father, John D. Rockefeller Jr., who never visited Winrock.
Other selections are excerpted from a documentary made in 2003 for the 50th anniversary celebration of Rockefeller's arrival in Arkansas and from a 1970 film about Winrock, including a photographic tour of Petit Jean Mountain and the farm at that time.
Gov. Rockefeller's Office
From 1955 to 1973, including his years as governor, Winthrop Rockefeller oversaw his business, political and charitable endeavors from a small office in his farm headquarters atop Petit Jean Mountain that came to embody his personality and work as much as perhaps any other space on the property. It was here that he spent the wee hours of the morning planning the day-to-day activities of the farm, where he agonized over his political positions and strategies, and where he spent the last year of his life reading, writing, and talking with family and friends.
The office has now been carefully restored to as near its original condition as possible — a sort of time capsule with many of Gov. Rockefeller's telling personal effects and preserved or recreated furnishings. When the exhibit was dedicated in 2010 as part of the third annual Winthrop Rockefeller Legacy Weekend, Gov. Rockefeller's grandson, Will, and his loyal friend and colleague Dr. William "Sonny" Walker led the ceremony. The office can be viewed any time, and, as with our other exhibits, special showing may be arranged.
The Institute serves as a satellite station for the Arkansas Archeological Survey. We have two displays dedicated to the work done by the survey’s team of archeologists based here on Petit Jean. One display showcases Native American artifacts that were
found on top of Petit Jean, as well as the rock art found inside a cave just a short drive and hike from the Institute. The other display features artifacts found at the team’s Carden Bottoms dig, located in the Arkansas River Valley just north of Petit Jean.
Lt. Gov. Win P. Rockefeller’s Office
Filled with items on loan from the Rockefeller family, this exhibit is a recreation of Win P. Rockefeller’s office in the state Capitol when he served as lieutenant governor until his untimely death in 2006. Win, Gov. Rockefeller’s only child, embraced the values of his father and held to the same deep-seated concept that “while we would live comfortably with what we inherited and earned,
we had the responsibility to see that these resources were used wisely in the service of our fellow man.” Win Paul Rockefeller’s office features a plethora of gifts he received from various people. He kept them all on display as a sign of gratitude, and they range from model airplanes to a Chinese dragon figurine to a rubber duck.