Hemingway-Pfeiffer Opens New Exhibit

Thursday, May 16, 2013
Museum Director Adam Long (right) shows off one of the panels from the View from the Hill exhibit which opened last week at the Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum.

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center opened a new exhibit Friday, May 10. The opening of "View from the Hill" coincides with the Pfeiffer family's first arrival in Piggott 100 years ago. It explores the globally-connected Pfeiffer's more fully, and reflects on the impact they had on not only Northeast Arkansas but the world.

The exhibit includes a variety of panels examining the history of the family. The panels depict various times in American history, such as World War I, and how it impacted the Pfeiffer's and the role they played. Also included is a display case of items belonging to "Uncle Gus" Pfeiffer, as the exhibit examines the impact he had on the local members of his family.

Dr. Ruth Hawkins is director of the ASU Heritage Sites, and an expert on the Pfeiffer family. She notes the exhibit is actually an offshoot of the book, "Unbelievable Happiness and Final Sorrow" she wrote about the marriage of Pauline Pfeiffer and Ernest Hemingway.

"It's really interesting, because of lot of this information I just wasn't able to put in my book because it is totally about the Pfeiffers," she said of the effort. "Of course, the Paul and Mary Pfeiffer family moved here to Piggott 100 years ago, but when they moved here, even though this was a small town, they still really had a window on the rest of the world because of all of their family was so far-flung."

Hawkins noted Paul Pfeiffer had brothers and sisters on both the east and west coast, a brother living in Germany and Italy and other relatives still living in their native Germany.

"Of course, eventually Pauline and Ernest traveled all over," she added. "So this exhibit is really an attempt to look at the Pfeiffer side of the family and the impact they had around the world."

She added the family had business operations worldwide, "their philanthropy was worldwide, even their relatives--so it's really just a look at how important they were in their own right."

Hawkins also noted the exhibit looks into other areas of the family, and holds some surprises. "They were friends with Helen Keller, and some of the Pfeiffers event made a home for her in their family compound in Connecticut," she added. "Paul's brother was from Germany, but during World War I he was forced out of Italy and into Switzerland, where he later died. And with the approach of World War II they had a lot of German relatives that were still over there, that for awhile followed the Nazi party until they realized Hitler wasn't what he was cracked up to be and became very disillusioned."

As Hawkins illustrated, the family bore witness to much of our country's history. "It's interesting how they were in touch with all the current events of the day," she added.

The exhibit is scheduled to remain open throughout the summer at the local museum. " It will run throughout the summer, we may keep it up beyond that if there is interest, or we may move it over to Jonesboro and keep it on display at the ASU museum, Hawkins added. "I think people will learn things about the Pfeiffer family that nobody ever had any idea about."

The Hemingway-Pfeiffer Museum and Educational Center is an Arkansas State University Heritage Site and is located on West Cherry Street in Piggott. Regular museum tours are on the hour, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Fridays and 1 to 3 p.m. Saturdays.

Those wanting more information may call them at 870 598-3487 or contact Museum Director Adam Long by email at adamlong@astate.edu

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: