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The following is a list of musuems within forty miles of downtown Hot Springs.
I advise calling for hours, since some of the museums are open seasonally and/or have limited hours. Also, museums open and close. Just because you see it listed here doesn't mean it's still in business.
Arkansas House of Reptiles, Central Avenue, Hot Springs, 501-623-8516. A smallish but pretty good indoor reptile collection including lots of exotics like poison tree frogs and monitor lizards in addition to your deadly domestics like timber rattlers and cottonmouths. Last visited 1997.
Bauxite Museum, Bauxite, find the post office on hwy 183 and take the turnoff south, 501-557-2997. You won't find this museum unless you're looking for it, but it's worth looking for. Most of the museum is purely of local interest, high school athletic championship trophies and the like; but there's lots of stuff like 19th century surveying equipment, aluminum industry and mining history, collections of obscure soda bottles and so on. Last visited 6/97.
Fordyce Bathhouse Visitors' Center, Hot Springs, 369 Central Avenue. 501-624-3383. The largest of the spas on bath-house row, the Fordyce has been restored to its condition during the 1930's heyday of Hot Springs as a curative spa resort. Inside, there are film and video presentations of the history of the resort. There is also a Bill Clinton display (Hot Springs is his home town) and displays of local wildlife. The building itself is an exhibit. My favorite parts are the 1930's gym where Jack Dempsey worked out and the top floor music room and parlor. Terrific tilework and Italian marble throughout. There are old needle-showers, sitzbaths, electrotherapy, hydrotherapy and mechanotherapy rooms. Lots of these "cures" looked pretty scary. Last visited 3/9/98.
Gangster Museum of America, 113 Central Avenue, Hot Springs. 501-318-1717. Admission $8. In the 1930's and 1940's Hot Springs played host to the famous and infamous, gangsters, movies stars, politicians and big wigs. This museum chronicles and documents that period. Audio visual presentations, antique gambling machines, period firearms. Last visited 5/16/08.
Gann Building, 218 S. Market Street, Benton, 778-8272. Contains lots of stuff about the Gann family as well as Indian and Civil War artifacts, niloak pottery, and of course, the building itself. Been there.
Grant County Museum, Sheridan, highway 270 west of town, 942-4496. In the last five years, these guys have put together a museum park. In addition to the main building, there are several building exhibits, including a cafe from the 1930's, a dog-trot house from the late 19th century, an actual masonic lodge, a wooden barracks building from the second world war, a schoolhouse, a 1920's church and more. Note that the auxiliary buildings are not regularly opened. Call for appointments for the outbuilding tour or catch one of their special event days. My favorite exhibits were the cafe, a portable tin boat from 1895 and an educational collection of glass magic lantern slides in fine condition.
Henderson State University Museum, Henderson and 10th, Arkadelphia, 501-246-7311. This museum, housed in the former home of benefactor Henderson, who benefacted so much that he got the whole university named after him, holds a number of good exhibits including 1) the biggest single natural quartz crystal I've ever seen, 2) a collection of military firearms demonstrating technical developments increasing the rate of fire of infantry from the Civil War to WWII, and 3) a first-rate and well-explained stone artifact exhibit. You might expect the last, since the building also houses the Arkansas Archaeological Survey offices. They've also got some mineral and wildlife specimens and assorted historical artifacts. Check it out next time you're in the "city of brotherly Ark." Last visited 4/29/98.
Heritage House Museum of Montgomery County, Mount Ida, highway 27 south. Recently opened, so exhibit areas aren't quite yet up to speed. Farm implements, crystal mining, lake Ouachita history. Open Fridays 9-4. Items of local interest and genealogical files. Last visited 9/7/01.
Hoo-Hoo Museum, Gurdon, 207 Main Street, 353-4997. This large log house is a timber industry museum and the international headquarters of the International Concatenated Order of Hoo-Hoo, a fraternal order of timber industry men and women. Been there.
Hot Spring County Museum (Boyle House), Malvern, 202 East 3rd Street. 501-394-2912. Museum closed for the time being due to fire in the library next door. Salvaged library materials are being stored in the museum. (RTJ--4/29-98) Last tried to visit 4/29/98.
L. C.'s Museum, south side of highway 60, ten miles west of Perryville or if you prefer, one mile west of Aplin, 501-***-****. This free private museum is in a storage building belonging to a senior citizen named L. C. Most of the stuff is pretty common pioneer museum stuff (irons, square nails, old tools, old furniture, quilts and the like. However, L. C. does have three collections in his museum that are worth taking the time for a special stop if you're headed to Nebo or Petit Jean. First, he has an extensive coke bottle collection. Second, he has a brick collection comprised of about a hundred or so specimens. Third, and best of all, he has an Arkansas license plate collection that is complete from about 1920 to the present, including fiberboard and paper tags from the war years, gasoline ration stamps and related documents. Last visited 1/7/99.
Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum, Central Avenue, Hot Springs, 623-5836. It's just what you think it is--wax sculptures of famous politicians, entertainers, historical figures. There's also a chamber of horrors and some cartoon and fictional characters. Been there.
Mid-America Museum, 400 Mid-America Blvd., 767-3461. This is one of those hands-on, gee-whiz, turn-the-crank-and-see-what-happens museums that's aimed at stimulating the curiosities of pre-teens. There's also a freshwater aquarium that's supposed to be the biggest in the country. Been there.
Mountain Valley Water Company, Central Avenue, Hot Springs. The museum, housed on the ground floor of the corporate headquarters, consists mainly of old bottles and cases and exhibits on the spring's geology. The real attraction is the building itself, a great job of historically responsible renovation. Been there.
Muscle Car Museum, 620 Malvern Avenue in Hot Springs. Phone is 501-321-1752. There's space in this museum/warehouse/ consignment shop for 20-25 cars. Lots of Mustangs and Camaros and Thunderbirds and Corvettes and the like dating from the late 1960's to mid 1970's. There are only a couple of cars here of true museum grade. These are ridin' around cars mostly. Last visited 6/04.Official Website.
Museum of Automobiles, Petit Jean State Park, hwy 154, 727-5427, local antique car enthusiasts vie for the honor of having their cars displayed here. Many ultra-fine specimens. One car on display at least until 2000 is Bill Clinton's Mustang. Been There.
Museum of Hot Springs, Hot Springs, 201 Central. Located in Howe Hotel building. 501-624-5545.
National Park Aquarium, Hot Springs, 209 Central Avenue. 501-624-3474. Live fish, reptiles, aquatic crustaceans and amphibians. About half the museum is devoted to local varieties, the other half is exotic. Convenient steps front the walls so little kids can see more easily. Six bucks to get in. Last visited 5/16/08.
Rock and Mineral Museum (Ocus Stanley and Son), Mount Ida, turn south off highway 270 and Pine Street (by the Dairy bar). 870-867-3556. The bad news is that there is nothing at all labelled in this "museum." The good news is that there is shelf after shelf after shelf jam packed with rare, colorful, unusual, beautiful mineral specimens gathered over a lifetime. If you appreciate minerals and gems, you'll love this place. If you're untrained, it's still fun to look at the pretty rocks. Last visited 12/18/97.