Any list of “dynamic duos” in Arkansas might seem incomplete without the inclusion of Harriet and Warren Stephens of Little Rock. Warren, of course, is the chairman, president and CEO of Stephens Inc., one of the nation’s largest privately held investment banks.
But the philanthropic efforts over the decades from both Harriet and Warren are enough for inclusion on any list of Arkansans making an impact. Most recently, the Stephenses’ work to raise money and awareness for the relaunching of the Arkansas Arts Center and its transformation into the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts has been notable. They co-chair the museum’s $142 million capital campaign funding the project, and they have been among its major individual donors.
The museum will reopen as the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts in May 2022, and city and state officials are expecting it to become a major tourism draw along the lines of Crystal Bridges in Bentonville. In fact, Warren told Arkansas Money & Politics last year that officials were shooting for game changing, and that he and his wife are blown away by the project.
“Until you see it, you don’t really get it. Both us were really awed,” he said. Designed by internationally renowned firm Studio Gang of Chicago, in collaboration with Polk Stanley Wilcox of Little Rock, the new museum will become a feather in the state’s cap, Harriet said.
“I think the building will become iconic and become a destination that’s talked about all over the country. It really will help put us on the map.”