Cowboys from the old West and the big screen are a part of our nation’s history. In Oklahoma City, travelers and those interested in more information and history on the American Frontier should seek out the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Visitors will find everything cowboy, including famous Western art and artifacts from those TV and movie heroes, including Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, The Duke and Will Rogers.
More than 28,000 artifacts and artworks are part of the dynamic collection. Visitors can wander through the well displayed exhibits that include the Native American Gallery, Museum of the Frontier West, Fine Firearms and American Cowboy.
The museum was founded in 1955 and was first called the Cowboy Hall of Fame, as honorees began being inducted into what was known as the Rodeo Hall of Fame. Today, Western performers and famous rodeo cowboys are highlighted for visitors to learn more about.
Upon entering the building, museumgoers are greeted by the famous “End of the Trail” sculpture by James Earle Fraser. Wild West history seekers can peruse a 13,000-square-foot replica of a turn-of-the-century cattle town in Prosperity Junction. While meandering the wooden walkways that creak just like in the days of Matt Dillon, visitors will hear barking dogs, a saloon piano, a distant train whistle and other everyday sounds.
With rodeo exhibits, an interactive children’s museum, Native American culture, and firearms from the Victorian Era and military, the museum honors the men and women who settled the Western United States.
An extensive art gallery features works by Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, William Robinson Leigh and more, providing art enthusiasts with one of the most recognized galleries of contemporary Western art in the world.
Special educational programs held at the museum keep the legacy of the American West alive for the generations to come. Programs and Western-themed events are held each year. It is also home to beautifully landscaped grounds and gardens featuring native flora.
This family-friendly museum offers plenty of activities, including the interactive exhibition “Power and Prestige: Headdresses of the American Plains,” with dramatic stories, a mapping journey and crafts for kids to make and take. Classes are offered throughout the year for kids and adults.
The museum can take hours to explore. If you need a snack, there’s a small restaurant with items like soup, salads and sandwiches.
A new children’s hands-on exhibit is slated to open this summer, COVID-19 precautions permitting. The museum reopened May 18, but keep up on any changes at nationalcowboymuseum.org. The museum also offers virtual tours at this time.
For more information on Oklahoma City attractions, go to visitokc.com.