The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, previously known as the Cowboy Hall of Fame, was established in 1955 in Oklahoma City to celebrate and honor America’s cowboys. Today it features an internationally renowned collection of art and artifacts from the great American West.
There are many permanent exhibits on display at the museum. These currently include:
American Cowboy Gallery
This gallery walks visitors through the culture of cowboys from the Spanish colonial days up through the 20th century. This is perfect for those interested in the changes in authentic cowboy lifestyles over time.
Museum of the Frontier West
About 450 artifacts in this gallery represent the cowboys, Native Americans, military personnel, and hunters from the 19th century American West.
The 18 acres on which the museum sits are beautifully landscaped and include incredible sculptures welcoming guests and introducing them to some of the culture the museum holds inside.
American Rodeo Gallery
The Rodeo gallery honors and recognizes the history, people, and events of America’s rodeos.
Native American Gallery
This gallery holds nearly 190 individual items displayed in 11 interpretive themes to celebrate Native American culture and history.
Prosperity Junction is a replica of a cattle town built around the turn of the century, and includes industrial buildings, business buildings, and the social aspects of these cow towns. A 35 foot tall windmill supplies water to the town and is the same model popular in the early 1900s.
Art of the American West
This 15,000 square foot gallery presents incredible paintings and sculptures representing the great American West.
The Silberman Gallery rotates small interpretive, thematic exhibitions every three to six months featuring works from the extensive Silberman collection of western works of art.
Children's Cowboy Corral
This interactive play area is designed for children to experience the West. Kids can dress up, build a campfire, fix some grub, listen to the cowboys, read, do puzzles, and engage in many more activities designed to bring the West to life.
Fine Firearms Gallery
Approximately 100 pieces showcase the fine domestic firearms of the second half of the 19th century in this gallery.
Western Performers Gallery
This 4,000 square foot exhibit celebrates great western performers who have kept the West alive through film and literature. One of the most outstanding aspects of this gallery is the personal John Wayne collection of firearms, artwork, and memorabilia.
The Osborn Studio replicates the photography building of J.C. Osborn, a western photographer. It then opens into a formal gallery outlining the history of photography since the turn of the century.
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum also has several annual events that guests can look forward to attending each year.
The Chuck Wagon Gathering and Children’s Cowboy Festival
Held each year on Memorial Day weekend, this festival features authentic chuck wagon crews that prepare some cowboy food staples for guests to sample. There is also stage entertainment and activities such as wagon rides, weaving, and rope making. The Chuck Wagon Gathering attracts more than 10,000 people each year!
The Prix de West
This is an invitational art exhibit held each summer at the museum including over 300 pieces from some of the finest Western artists there are. The event includes seminars, receptions, and an awards banquet, and each piece is offered for sale at the end.
Rodeo Weekend includes musical performances, legendary sports figures, and a benefit auction. The highlight, however, is the recognition of those worthy of induction into the Rodeo Hall of Fame.
Western Heritage Awards
The awards program recognizes individuals whose works reflect the American West, as well as inductees into the Hall of Great Westerners and the Hall of Great Western Performers.
There are also multiple art shows held at The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum each year.
Hours and Admission
The museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and it is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s Day.
Admission for adults is $12.50. Seniors 62 years and older pay $9.75, as do students with a valid student ID. Children ages 4-12 pay $5.75, and anyone 3 and under gets in for free.
The National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum also has multiple spaces available to rent. The indoor Special Events Center and S.B. “Burk” Burnett Board Room provide excellent areas for parties and corporate events, and the beautiful plaza and gardens present a romantic backdrop perfect for weddings and receptions. Rates vary by space and size of event.
Museum memberships include free admission, discounts, invitations to museum events, and a subscription to the museum magazine. More benefits are added with increasing membership dues, but the base cost is $75.
As always, more information can be found on the official site.
Other Oklahoma City Museums:
The Sam Noble Museum of Natural History
The Oklahoma City Museum of Art
The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum
The Myriad Botanical Gardens of Oklahoma City