The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: Changing Visions of the West

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: Changing Visions of the West

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Although snippets of information on the history of the museum have appeared from time to time over the years this is the first full fledged documented history of the institution.

From rowdy beginnings to national prominence...

In June 1965, the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center, as it was then named, owned a mere handful of artifacts. In fact, the Oklahoma City institution was forced to borrow materials to mount exhibitions in support of its inaugural events. 

 From that modest beginning, the center, now known as the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, has grown into perhaps the world's most respected repository for the diverse cultures of the American West. 

But, as Bobby D. Weaver demonstrates in this no-holds-barred history, the path from those humble origins to the esteemed position the museum occupies today led through some rough-and-tumble times, including a period of receivership.

As Weaver relates, today's institution is well poised for the future as it furthers its mission of preserving and interpreting the heritage of a vital American region and its lifeways. The story of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum will stand as an example of how history museums can help reserve the cultural heritage of a region that is undergoing constant change. 

BOBBY D. WEAVER: is author of Castro's Colony: Empresario Development in Texas, 1842 - 1865 and Oilfield Trash: Life and Labor in the Oil Patch. From 1988-2001, he served as assistant director of the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. He lives in Edmond, Oklahoma.