Ralph Foster Museum
The “Ralph Foster Museum” isn’t just another Branson attraction; it’s probably the most diverse, unusual, and captivating collection of artifacts you’ll find anywhere! Exploring its many different displays that range from an intact, antique dental office to a display of Rose O’Neill’s world-famous Kewpie Dolls, it might be hard to stereotype the museum’s purpose. But knowing that you’re seeing an impressive collection of artifacts, most of which have some tie to the Branson area, it all falls into place; the mission of the museum, a point of pride for the College of the Ozarks campus, is to collect, preserve, interpret, and exhibit items related to the Ozarks region. Named for the man who created a radio station that, in the 1950’s, gave Nashville a run for its money as the place to further a promising career in country music, the “Ralph Foster Museum” also includes an interesting area with several displays featuring pioneers of Branson’s music industry, as well as big name artists who discovered a new phase of their career here. Labeled the Ozark Mountain Music Pioneers Hall of Fame, it honors artists like those who created Branson’s first shows, Lloyd Presley of Presleys’ Country Music Jubilee, and the Mabe brothers who founded the Baldknobbers Jamboree.
Probably the most well-known of “Ralph Foster Museum’s” displays is an original truck from the Beverly Hillbillies’ 1960’s television show. It’s authenticated by the fact that it was gifted to the museum by the producer of the show, Missouri native, Paul Henning. But beyond this nostalgic display at the front of the museum is a world of fascinating, educational, exciting, and just plain fun items that anybody would find entertaining. A massive display of guns and other weaponry that takes up nearly an entire floor, some complete with photos and related items of interest. Several of these displays include news articles or other stories of the famous outlaws who used the guns, including the sad story of an early 1930’s massacre of Springfield area police officers by the Young Brothers. Other displays include dolls, furnishings from the offices of area dignitaries like Dewey Short and M. Graham Clark, historical photos from the College of the Ozarks, Native American artifacts, paintings, and far more than can be listed here.
Make time in your itinerary to enjoy the many museum attractions you’ll find in Branson, and don’t forget to include the one museum that’s been here for decades and is finally being discovered by everyone who is looking for that special experience; that place they haven’t seen before…the wonderful “Ralph Foster Museum!”
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