OKC has one of our favorite museums; the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, or better known as just the National Cowboy Museum…
It is unique, and has so many widely varied exhibits that there is sure to be something to please everyone in the family! The lobby of the museum boasts the original The End of the Trail plaster statue that was sculpted for a 1915 exhibition in San Francisco. The statue has quite an interesting background as it was cut up and discarded after the exhibition; 5 years later it was rescued and put back together, eventually placed in a town in CA where it weathered the elements for 48 years. In 1968, the National Cowboy Museum acquired it and restored it.
Now, the statue makes a great backdrop for a family photo op. (and while I was taking this picture, there was an oriental family that was also taking this same picture – of my kids! ROFL!)
The National Cowboy Museum was founded in 1955, and over 10 million visitors have come to enjoy the many different styles of western art, including bronzed sculptures and oil paintings, and to learn about the West.Besides an extensive museum building, there are also vast grounds where visitors can enjoy beautifully manicured gardens, paved walking paths, and a large courtyard.
There are intricate, larger than life sculptures, fish ponds, and a waterfall.
Back in the air conditioned loveliness of the museum, there are many galleries, each with a different theme, to explore!
Like the 8,000 sq ft American Cowboy Gallery, where cowboy culture and history from colonial times to present, are highlighted.
The exhibits cover everything from different cowboy garb to branding irons to barbed wire exhibits (which is way more interesting than it sounds! LOL!).
Next up is the Western Performers Gallery, which is a 4,000 sf area of the museum that features everything about western actors and authors. This gallery hosts a small theater that shows a short film on western television and film and it’s actors.There are also extensive exhibits that feature the best of the best when it comes to western actors – including Roy Rogers, John Wayne, and Gary Cooper, and some information about them.
There are extensive, themed galleries of western paintings including some from Charlie Russel, and others featuring native works.
The National Cowboy Museum has a huge, beautiful, sprawling building that houses all these exhibits, but our favorite area is not in the main museum building – it’s the Children’s Cowboy Corral, which is housed in its very own building! Here the little cowpokes can sleep in the bunkhouse, cook up some cowboy stew over the campfire, and even scrub out some of those nasty cowboy laundry stains using the washboards.
The ranch house features displays on branding, and the little cowboys can learn new songs to sing around the campfire.
Lots of fun to be had in the Children’s Cowboy Corral, but it’s even more fun if you make your first stop here at the Buckaroo Bunk House.
Here your little buckaroos can dress the part by donning leather chaps and cowboy boots, and bonnets or bandannas (and they can wear them through the children’t corral)…
Once they look the part, the little cowpokes can head over to the chuck wagon and rustle up some grub… and don’t forget the campfire coffee! Lots of hand-on activities to keep little hands busy!Back in the main museum building, we also really enjoyed Prosperity Junction; a turn-of-the-century cattle town… Here you can walk the town streets as it would have been on a warm summer night, visiting the general store, peeking into the schoolhouse, stopping in to church. The windmill stands tall, the blacksmith’s fire glows, and the windows lining the main street are lit with lamp light. It’s peaceful and serene… but when things get out of hand, like they would in a cowboy town, the sheriff is always ready to save the day and throw the troublemakers in jail.While there are many areas in the museum where you are not allowed to take pictures, especially the art exhibits, there are many others that offer ample exhibits to capture your visit to this incredible museum. We especially loved this one…if you are able to visit, be sure to position yourself behind the men and look down his rifle sites…
The museum offers places for the foot weary art observer to rest their tired legs before continuing to tour the museum…and there is even a restaurant in the museum (which smelled heavenly)!
Set in the heart of Oklahoma, with it’s cattle rich history, OKC is the perfect setting for the National Cowboy Museum. And it’s definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the area!Oklahoma City has so much to offer the family that is traveling! Consider spending some time there on your way through, or even making it a vacation destination!