Keeper of the Spirit: Stephanie Sims takes helm as university museum and cultural center director

Stephanie Sims

Stephanie Sims

12 years ago, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB) alumna Stephanie Sims worked as a student assistant in the University Museum and Cultural Center (UMCC). She returned to the UMCC in July as director of the place where her love of history began.

With initial aspirations of being an art history teacher, Sims admits that her career path morphed into what it is today. It was during her work-study program that she noticed she had a thing for preserving and putting together artifacts and exhibit installation, design, and planning.

“When I was a student there were a lot of my other peers that weren’t comfortable with doing exhibit installation,” Sims said. “Even in my junior year, I was helping graduating seniors put their shows together.”

What she loves most about history is that it repeats itself and can reveal information you would not have discovered before.  Something as simple as a photograph can unfold into a recount of the events that led to the moment that was captured.

Sims cultivated her skills at the UMCC for six years before seizing an opportunity to work as the personal archivist to former President William J. Clinton. In this position, she solely managed Clinton’s collection of personal papers and artifacts and assisted with multiple exhibit installations with NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) and Foundation staff at the Clinton Presidential Library.

Sims obtained her bachelor’s degree in Visual Arts at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, and master’s degree in Public History from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is a member of Phi Alpha Theta National History Honor Society and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

Located inside Childress Hall at UAPB, the University Museum and Cultural Center was founded in 2004 to collect, preserve, and promote the rich history of the institution and the surrounding Arkansas Delta. The museum is also home to a permanent exhibit, Keepers of the Spirit: The L.A. Davis, Sr. Historical Collection, that documents the history of UAPB. Created by the late U.G. Dalton and Henri Linton, Sr., the exhibit was a continuation of the Persistence of the Spirit exhibit which recorded the history of African Americans in Arkansas. In addition to rotating exhibits, the museum features a large collection of photographs, catalogs, yearbooks, letters, artifacts, portraits, and other ephemera that document the lives of the women and men who helped to shape the history of the university and surrounding delta area.

For more information about the museum, visit www.uapb.edu/museum or call (870) 575-8230/8234.

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