Alternate Perceptions Magazine, June 2018
The Golden Pioneer Museum in Golden, Missouri
by: Dr. Greg Little
The Golden Pioneer Museum is not something one expects to find in a really small town in a remote rural area with no major highways nearby. It is located about 16 miles NNE from Eureka Springs, Arkansas at the intersection of Highway 86 and Co. Rd. J. The town has 8 or 9 houses. Quite frankly, neither words nor photos can adequately describe this densely packed, deceptively large building that one would recognize as a museum only because of the signs painted on its exterior. Inside the rectangular building you encounter row after row of packed artifacts going from the floor to the ceiling—displayed on both sides. Some of the rows are 100 feet long within the original building there are at least 4 such rows interspersed with many connecting openings, all of which are also packed with artifacts. A new building, 2 stories tall, is attached to the older structure and contains similarly packed artifacts. The museum’s Native American material includes over 10,000 arrowheads, thousands of ancient pots and effigy artifacts, along with uncounted troves of beads, pearls, and native clothing. Pottery lines the top shelves everywhere and many are some of the finest examples I have ever seen. But organized it is not. What seems to have happened is that the museum became so overwhelmed with artifacts that eventually there was no way to create a unified organization. Once one views the arrangements this observation becomes obvious, but this is not a criticism. Instead, it is a testament to the efforts of the museum’s creators.
By far, the greatest amount of space is devoted to glassware, more than I have viewed at the British Museum, the Smithsonian, the Chicago Museum, and countless others. They cite over 12,000 pieces of glassware and one of the largest collections of Carnival glass in existence. There are special dark rooms where the glass can be viewed in its iridescent and colorful glory. Some of the glass is radioactive (but safe) and is also seen in specially lighted rooms. Unless one really takes the time, it’s difficult to focus on individual objects.
Among the exceedingly eclectic collections found in the museum are “the World’s Most Fabulous Quartz Crystal Cluster” and countless other gems, massive crystals, and minerals. There is a collection of hand irons, some of which are 300 years old. There are several massive displays of collector lunch boxes, baseball cards, over 1000 toothpick holders, pocket watches and home implements, and guns and ammunition from many countries and in many time frames. If you want to see military rifles with bayonets attached, you’ll find them here.
The collection was put together by Winfred and Lee Ona Prier of Golden and was amassed over many decades. The museum absorbed the collections of both the Trail of Tears Museum and the Frontier Village Museum of Oklahoma City when they closed.
Admission to the museum is free. That’s right, free. It is simply overwhelming and if you really want to “see” it all, it’ll take some time. Go to their website for hours and directions: Here