You won't find the Mortuary Museum listed with Parks and Tourism. It's the front room at Warren Olmstead's auto detailing garage, and the collection chronicles the history of the Olmstead family at Heber Springs. It seems a little quaint, the combination of auto detailing and mortuary, but in days gone by citizens rarely limited themselves to a single skill or trade. In a small town, specialization just wasn't practical.

The museum is laid out (pardon the expression) around the Olmsteads' beautifully restored, original 1896 horse-drawn hearse. Other exhibits include antique embalming equipment, portable victrolas with funereally appropriate shellac disks for graveside services, coffins, shipping crates for bodies, and a photo gallery of Olmstead hearses from 1898 to the present day in addition to items not directly related to the funeral business.

Visitors are welcome to browse in the museum during business hours, which are not exactly regular. Call Warren Olmstead at 501-362-2231 to verify that he'll be in his shop pinstriping somebody's pickemup when you visit. If you want to arrange a guided tour, he'll refer you to one of the elder Olmstead's.


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