This “Odditorium” features a collection of over 300 rare and strange objects from all over the world, and is housed in a building that was once one of the only drive-through mortuaries in the American South.
Maxwell Blade’s Odditorium and Curiosities Museum is presided over by local illusionist and comedian Maxwell Blade, whose Theatre of Magic is adjacent to the space. Some of the items in the collection belong to David Tillman of the nearby Tillman’s Antiques, and Blade often adds new curiosities to the displays.
This Odditorium houses jars of preserved reptiles, voodoo dolls, a silver Inca skull discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1913 at the base of Machu Picchu, the huge rings of sideshow giants, skeletons, a Fiji mermaid, chastity belts, and one of Edgar Allen Poe’s inkwells, among other things. Several taxidermy albino animals sit in one corner, surveying the room. A two-faced calf head hangs on one wall.
The resort town of Hot Springs is part of Hot Springs National Park, and tourists have come to drink and bathe in its mineral-rich water since the 19th century. The museum’s antique circus and sideshow posters testify the town’s curious history: Hot Springs once boasted a carnival on Whittington Avenue that brought countless showmen to the area. They formed the Showmen’s Association in 1948, and in the 1950s, Mae West and Gypsy Rose Lee performed in their club.