National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma | United States of America

About the Museum

Interior view of the NCWHM.

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum (NCWHM) is the premier institution for the art, culture, and history of the American West. The museum collects, preserves, and exhibits Western art and artifacts and sponsors a range of educational programs to stimulate public interest in the legacies of the American West. Exhibits tell the story of the West through the cowboy, Native Americans, and Western artists. Although the primary focus of the Museum is Western fine art, it also collects and displays a variety of artifacts that tell the story of the West from a variety of perspectives. Interactive historical galleries include exhibits on the American cowboy, Native American cultures, Western performers, Victorian firearms, rodeos, and the frontier military. Visitors can enter a replica of a turn-of-the-century cattle town, Prosperity Junction; younger guests can dress up in chaps and spurs and explore a diorama of a working ranch. The Museum’s 18-acre grounds include gardens that display a number of outdoor sculptures.

Founded as the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum in 1955 to honor the cowboy and his era, NCWHM went through several incarnations until 2000, when it was accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and given its present name. The Museum’s Donald C. & Elizabeth M. Dickinson Research Center holds substantial archives and photographic collections relating to the American West, including the largest collection of rodeo photography in the world.

Each year, NCWHM offers a gallery space for the Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition, an annual competition of the best contemporary Western artists in the nation. The winning submission becomes a part of the NCWHM’s permanent collection.

(Photos courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.)

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