RAM originated in 1948 under the Arkansas Association of University Women. In 1951 the Associated Artists of Fort Smith began exhibiting art and holding classes in various locations throughout Fort Smith. In 1960 space for an art center was purchased, and in 1968 the Fort Smith Art Center was incorporated. The small Art Center offered a valuable service for local and regional artists by offering space for its artists for five decades.
The opening of the new museum located at 1601 Rogers Avenue near the heart of Fort Smith marked a major turning point for this organization. Arvest Bank made the expansion possible by donating the 16,000 square-foot building to the Art Center in January of 2009, following a $211 million dollar buyout of Superior Federal Bank in 2003. In 2011 the museum’s founding Executive Director was hired to oversee the museum’s renovation project and to facilitate its greatly expanded programming. The Art Center was fully re-branded and opened in January of 2013 as the Fort Smith Regional Art Museum that is fully compliant with the standards of the American Alliance of Museums.