If you're a faithful watcher of "Tales of the Gun" on the History Channel, you'll want to know about these gun collections.
There are two really big collections on public display in the state. One is housed in this windowless white blockouse in Old Washington State Park. It's the D.W. Edwards Weapons Museum and it's a humdinger. Mr. Edwards of Hope sold his collection to the Washington Pioneer's Association in 1959. In 1973 the whole town was turned into a park and the weapons museum along with it. Depending on the tour package you select it'll cost you $4 to $5 to go through it (along with James Black's Shop and the Print Museum and various pioneer homes).
Here's what the climate-controlled inside looks like. They've got some 600 firearms racked and catalogued and for good measure a couple hundred swords and knives, from ceremonial to standard issue, from samurai swords to engraved Hitler Jugend daggers. "Substance, Not Style," or some such translation.
The collection thins out around WWII with lugers (dozens of variants), the mp-40 and Italian schoolboy drill rifle. There are a couple of cabinets of matchlocks, wheel locks, blunderbusses (blunderbi?) and such; but the focus of the collection is wild-west frontier pioneer. And they've got Remingtons, Colts, and Winchesters in spades.
I asked how long it took to clean all those guns and was told that like the windows on the Empire State Building the cleaning project is always under way, but it never actually gets done.
The second largest collection in the state takes up half of the Saunders Museum and has just short of 400 specimens, mostly handguns. Here's a link to an account of Your Host's visit to the Saunders Museum. The thing that makes the Saunders collection special is the large number of presentation models, a pistol given to Saunders by the King of Greece or won in a shooting match from some famous frontier personality, stuff like that.
The world's largest collection of nonpowder firearms, make that "air guns," is in a room just off the lobby of the headquarters of Daisy International in Springdale. Here's a link to an account of Your Host's visit to the Daisy Airgun Museum.
Gun collections also turn up in less likely places. For example, here on the left is a picture of part of the gun collection in the Museum of Automobiles at Petit Jean State Park. They've got about forty rifles and pistols displayed just off the main exhibit space. Also, if you're going to travel to view smaller collections, Blythe's Museum in Waldron has several dozen firearms on display.
Smaller collections of mostly military weapons are on display at Henderson State University Museum in Arkadelphia, the National Guard Museum in North Little Rock, the Veterans Military Museum in Hardy, and the Abundant Memories Heritage Village in Eureka Springs.
On top of that, just about any museum you go into is going to have some guns on display. I'd put money on the proposition that at least a third of the museums in the state have either a Springfield, a Garand or a local ancestral pop gun from the Civil War.