FREE GIVEAWAY!! Enter for you chance to win a copy of L.L. Broadfoot’s Pioneers of the Ozarks!



In honor of our grand reopening, the Harlin Museum is giving away a free copy of L.L. Broadfoot’s, Pioneers of the Ozarks book. Here is what you need to do to enter for your chance to win:

  1. Come to the museum during our L.L. Broadfoot: The Collection exhibit.
  2. While at the show, check-in to the Harlin Museum on Facebook (@HarlinMuseumWP) and post a photo of yourself at the exhibit.* 
  3. That’s it! You are entered to win!

The winner will be chosen on October 3rd, 2020 from all eligible entries. Please contact the museum at or (417) 256-7801 with any questions.

  • If you aren’t sure how to check-in to a location using Facebook, you’ll find some helpful instructions HERE. 


Call for Artist Submissions to Harlin Museum’s 45th Annual Fall Art Show Competition




The Harlin Museum of West Plains, MO is set to host its 45th Annual Fall Art Show this year and is calling for art submissions from all Southern Missouri and Northwest Arkansas regional artists. Entry dates for the show’s competition will be Friday, October 2nd, and Saturday, October 3rd from 12 pm-4 pm at the museum. The show’s entries will be on display in the museum’s Hathcock Gallery, October 10th – October 31st, 2020.

Due to the museum’s recent closure over the summer months, the categories for this year’s show have been expanded to include art forms whose regularly scheduled shows fell during the coronavirus lockdown of non-essential businesses. The categories this year will include Fine Arts (2D & 3D entries) for Novice, Advanced or Youth, Digital Arts (Still or Animated) for Adult or Youth, and Photography (Color or Monochrome) for Adult or Youth.  The show’s final categories and prize amounts will be determined by the entries received and there will be a Best of Show awarded for each of the three main categories. All entries will be evaluated for artistic quality, integrity, technique, and presentation. Entries must meet given guidelines for acceptance into the competition portion of the show.

Those who are interested in entering the competition can find entry guidelines for the three main categories attached to this email, as well as on the museum’s website at  Any questions regarding eligibility or other inquiries can be emailed to the museum at or you may contact the museum directly at (417) 256-7801.

We ask that all available artists please join us in continuing this artistic autumn tradition.e look forward to seeing what you have been working on!

Two-Day #PleinAir Workshop with Award-Winning Artist, John P. Lasater IV, Coming September 2020

MUSEUM NEWS: Plein Air Painting Workshop with John Lasater IV, September 2 & 3, 2020

Deadline to register for the John P. Lasater IV 2-Day Plein Air workshop by August 30th, 2020.

August 7, 2020

Join award-winning representational painter, John P. Lasater IV, for a 2-day Plein air painting workshop this September, hosted by the Harlin Museum.

Workshop activities begin Tuesday evening, September 1st, with an Artist Meet & Greet at Harlin Museum of West Plains (participants will be notified of event time upon registration confirmation) at which participants will view a presentation given by the artist. Students will then meet the artist on location at Mammoth Spring State Park, Mammoth Springs, Arkansas, for the Plein air instructional workshop sessions on Wednesday & Thursday, September 2 &3, 2020, from 9 am – 4 pm each day.

The cost to attend the workshop is $300.00 total for both days. Payment must be made in full to Harlin Museum by the first day of the workshop. Students are responsible for bringing their own art supplies to the workshop, as well as a bag lunch or any other desired refreshments. The general supply list for John’s workshops can be found on his website at

All questions may be directed to the Harlin Museum via email at or you may phone/text the workshop’s coordinator, Vicki Warren-Martin, at 870-706-7863.  Registration to reserve a seat may be completed online by clicking the link HERE and completing the Bookings instructions at the bottom of the page.

WORKSHOP VENUE/LOCATION: Mammoth Spring State Park, 17 US HWY 63, Mammoth Springs, AR 72554

LUNCH/REFRESHMENTS: Students will need to bring their own drinking water, bag lunch, and/or other refreshments

INSTRUCTOR: John P. Lasater IV

WORKSHOP HOURS: 9 am to 4 pm both days

SUBJECT: Plein air painting instruction

COST: $300.00 per person, total, for both days

REQUIRED SUPPLIES: View the basic supply list for John’s workshops on his website HERE.

Museum Desk, (417) 256-7801,
Vicki Warren-Martin, (870) 706-7863, 

Before the Catron, there was the Grand #OperaHouse…..

Original Opening Ball Invitation; Grand Opera House, West Plains, MO, November 1885

DISCOVER YOUR OZARKS: West Plains Grand Opera House

August 3, 2020

Written & Photographed by V. Warren-Martin

In its illustrious history, West Plains, Missouri has seen many of its citizens come and go—and with every departure, tokens of this notorious Ozarks town have gone along for the journey. As luck would have it, one extremely rare such token found its way back to where it’s origin story began.

It showed up in the museum’s mailbox with a postmark from San Bernadino, CA, where it had ended up in the hands of the Needles Regional Museum in Needles, California, a mere 1,452 miles away from its’ Southern Missouri home. Inside, tucked between two vintage postcards, was an original invitation to an Opening Ball at the Grand Opera House, West Plains, Missouri, dated Friday Evening, November 6, 1885.

In 1885, West Plains was well on its way to becoming one of the storied boomtowns that developed out of the transcontinental US railroad construction of the late 19th Century. The Kansas City, Fort Scott and Memphis Railway Company arrived in West Plains in 1883 and brought with it, over the next several years, a deluge of people looking for opportunity and community in the now more readily-accessible midwest.

While many of us who grew up in West Plains are aware of the beautifully restored building widely known as the Catron Opera House, built in 1893 for O.H.P. Catron & Thomas Johnson, there is little knowledge to be found regarding the Grand Opera House.

It is recalled to have been located on the 200 Block of E. Main St., approximately in the current location of the Historic Post Office’s eastside parking lot. During its time, it is said that the building was occupied by a machine shop on the first floor, with the theater-like Opera House space upstairs—later, McFarland’s Undertaking would occupy space in the same building. While it’s highly unlikely that the Grand ever hosted an actual opera performance, as the term opera house was a common name in those days for any large theater-like space where the citizens could gather, it is likely that with the population hub West Plains became in that era, such a space would have been the setting for many a community event, performance, dance, meeting, and celebration as the first such space of its kind in West Plains, MO.

The front cover of the once folded 4 ¾” x 3 ½” ivory invitation, now in two separate pages that both still feature the finest line of gold-gilded splendor along the outside edges of the paper, announces in a red and black mixture of plain font and occasionally elaborate script,

Front Cover of Grand Opera House Opening Ball Invitation













Closeup of front cover shows the printer’s mark for Gazette Steam Print

Below the decorative typeface, in the bottom lefthand corner of the invitation’s cover page in tiny, plain type is the faded printer’s mark:

Gazette Steam Print






Inside Front Cover of Grand Opera House Opening Ball Invitation

The inside pages of the invitation feature, on one side, the names of the multiple committee members who played a part in organizing the ball that November night. Many prominent and long-standing Howell County family names appear on the function’s Committee List of those who came together to provide their neighbors, family, and friends with a night of music, dancing, and merriment:

R.G. Green, J.W. Arbogast, J.W. Simms, J.H. Chandler, J.H. McFarland, J.P. Harlin, J.B. Tillman, W.K.Davis, O.A. Shuttee, T. F. Drew, W.T. Smith, J. Hirsh, JNO. Smith, F.G. Whitney, JAS Lewis, G. Humphreys, Bert Cremeens, W.B. Green, W.T. Harlin, M.B. Chandler, T.P. Woodworth, C.H. Humphreys, F.E. Parker, & J.H. Fredrick.




Inside Back Page of Grand Opera House Opening Ball Invitation

Also included, on the facing inside page, can be found the order in which the many different types of dances planned for the evening would be played:

  1. Quadrille
  2.  Schottische
  3. Quadrille
  4. Varsovienne
  5. Quadrille
  6. Waltz
  7. Schottische
  8. Quadrille
  9. Polka
  10. Quadrille
  11. Waltz
  12. Quadrille
  13. Schottische
  14. Quadrille
  15. Opera Reel
  16. Quadrille
  17. Waltz
  18. Polka
  19. Waltz
  20. Quadrille
  21. Waltz
  22. Quadrille
  23. Schottische
  24. Varsovienne
  25. Quadrille
  26. Home Waltz

A truly intriguing artifact whose overall good condition certainly belies the many years that have passed between the time it was originally printed and now!  And, while we have yet to find any additional records pertaining to the era of activity regarding the Grand Opera House of West Plains, we know there are likely some out there—and we encourage you to let us know what you find!!.

We are certainly grateful for this long-kept and well-preserved piece of history that gives us a glimpse into our town during one of its most abundant periods of growth, promise, and hope. May the West Plains spirit of community that those citizens celebrated 135 years ago remain alive in our hearts, today and always.


Post-publication note:

With the assistance of Sarah Wittenauer over at FGS-Surveyors / Riggs & Associates, Inc., we have found the location of the Grand Opera House platted on a June 1893 map of downtown West Plains, MO, located in the University of Missouri’s Digital Library archive. It shows the building to be located due east of the spring (now located beneath the Historic Post Office building) with a machine shop on the 1st floor and the opera house on the 2nd, across the street, and up from the Commercial Hotel.


Youth Art Camp Session Dates Announced for Summer 2020

As public spaces reopen and we all begin the transition to our new normal, we have decided to dip our toes in the proverbial waters by announcing dates for our upcoming 2020 Youth Summer Art Camp sessions with Ginny Thomason. This will be an ideal opportunity for us to start small as we work towards reopening for public events and gallery shows.

The camp will have two sessions, Tuesday through Thursday, 10 am – 12 pm, on June 30th – July 2nd, 2020 and then again on July 21st – 23rd, 2020. The cost to attend is $10 / camper per day (snack and supplies included) and pre-registration is required; please register for the first session by June 29th.

To register your camper or for more information, please contact our Art Camp instructor, Ginny Thomason, at 417-257-3987 or email her at

Due to the current ongoing public health issue with Coronavirus, extra safety precautions will be taken to protect all attendees in accordance with the guidelines given by health authorities and #westplainsmo officials. We encourage all patrons to approach us with any concerns so that we may serve you better and make your experience a positive one.

We look forward to seeing you all again!!

COVID 19 Quarantine Delays Harlin’s Spring Art Show

Due to the current guidelines in effect for public safety during the coronavirus/COVID 19 quarantine, we are temporarily postponing the Harlin Museum’s 2020 Spring Art Show until we are safely able to open to the public. As soon as safety protocol allows for public gatherings, we will return to our calendar of shows & exhibits as planned. This means that we will NOT be accepting entries for the SPring ARt Show today.

Please watch our website and social media pages for further announcements regarding rescheduled entry dates and show dates—and also be sure to sign up for our informational emails regarding future museum events!  To sign up, simply send an email to with the subject line “Add Me” to receive future notifications about museum events, exhibits, and workshops.

We ask that everyone stay safe and please look after one another during this difficult time for our community–and continue to allow art to inspire you.  We look forward to seeing what you’ve been working on while you’ve been at home!

Upcoming Entry Dates for Annual High School Art Show Competition & Young Artist Showcase

The Harlin Museum Board of Directors announces the upcoming entry dates for their 2020 High School Art Show Competition as being this Friday, February 7th (12 pm – 6 pm) and Saturday, February 8th (12 pm – 4 pm). In addition to these regular entry dates, the board will be allowing late entries on Sunday, February 9th (12 pm – 4 pm) for an additional entry fee of $5.00 per entry piece.

The competition, which is open to all public, private, and home-schooled high school students of the Southern Missouri & Northern Arkansas Ozarks region, limits 2 pieces of artwork per artist with an entry fee of $5.00 per entry. Prizes for Best of Show and 1st, 2nd, & 3rd places, plus Honorable Mentions, will be awarded in each category, along with prize money amounts; categories will be determined by the types of entries received. An Artists’ Reception will be held on February 29 from 5 pm-7 pm with food, drinks, and music during which awards will be handed out. All friends, family, and the public at large are invited to attend.

Artists can find guidelines for the competition at HERE or at the museum. All entries will need to be brought to the museum on one of the entry dates and artists will need to fill out an entry form in order to be eligible for prizes.

In conjunction with the High School Show, the museum board will also be hosting the Young Artist Showcase for artists younger than high school age. Parents/teachers/guardians may bring their young artist’s work to the museum for the display on any of the High School Show entry dates. There are no content/size guidelines or framing requirements for the showcase; these pieces will not be part of the competition portion of the show and will not be awarded prizes, however, certain pieces may be chosen for the honor of becoming fundraising postcards for the museum’s gift shop (with permission of the artist/artist’s guardian).

The Harlin’s Annual High School Art Show Competition & Young Artist Showcase will be on display in the Hathcock Gallery from February 13 – March 1st.

For more information, please contact the Museum Desk at (417) 256-7801 or follow the link above to the competition guideline page for Points of Contact info (at the bottom of the guideline page).

The Harlin Museum Board of Directors Announces the Election of New Officers

The Harlin Museum is pleased to announce the addition of two new officers to its board of directors following their officer elections at the December board meeting.

To the office of President of the Board of Directors, board members elected West Plains resident and former board Vice President, Vicki Warren-Martin.  Ms. Martin, a board member since 2018, operates her own freelance media marketing service and is also the museum’s IT Manager and PR Coordinator. Her interests include art, photography, regional & world history, and philanthropy.

To the office of Vice President of the Board of Directors, members elected West Plains resident Cleo Cockrum, Ed.D. Ms. Cockrum, a board member since 2018, has a doctorate in Developmental Education Administration and also serves as the museum’s Gallery Manager. Her interests include quilting and textile arts, local history, personal genealogical study, and spending time with her friends & family.

The offices of Board Secretary and Board Treasurer continue to be occupied by Ms. Septembre (Temi) Lasater, a board member since 2018. Ms. Lasater is a life-long Ozarks resident and a graduate of SMSU-WP with a cow-calf operation in Howell County. Her interests include local/regional history, folkways, and genealogical research. She is also an active member of the Ozarks Chapter of the Missouri Archaeological Society.

Please join us in congratulating these ladies on their newly-elected positions!  

If you are interested in volunteering at the museum or in joining the Harlin Museum Board, please send an email to the board with “VOLUNTEER REQUEST” in the subject line and send it to the following email address:

Or you may contact the museum at (417) 256-7801; please leave a message with your name and contact information regarding your request.