In December I went to Oklahoma City for a short visit and while there I toured the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. I had originally planned the visit just to fill in a little extra time that I had while visiting the City, but the visit turned out to be down right enjoyable. Now a compliment like that from someone who knows absolutely nothing about rodeos or cowboys ranks pretty high up on the list! There truly is something there for every taste, even if you think you have 'none' you will find yourself surprised at how you enjoy this place.
They have a museum movie which is very nicely done and gives some highlights of things you can spend a little more time with in the museum. In the far end of the entry you will find a stunning sculpture of 'The End of the Trail'
It marks the end of the Trail of Tears. The exodus of the Native Americans to Oklahoma.
There are several exhibition wings with various items on display. For example, one wing shows saddles; so many saddles that it boggles the mind. There are working saddles, parade saddles, ornate saddles and many others from foreign countries and different cultures. If you thought you knew about saddles before you walked in; you would be blown away at the variety and workmanship.
Out of one exhibit and into another and you will find yourself looking at horseshoes. Never could I have imagined that there were so many different kinds and shapes. Then it is on to ropes, stirrups and lassos; it just goes on and on. Each area is more interesting than the last.
I wandered down a cowboy hall of fame, sure that I knew no one there...then I saw a very nice bronze statue of Ronald Reagan, so I guess I do know more than Roy Rogers! Just off to the left was a small circa 1900 Western cattle town aptly named Prosperity Junction...it was like stepping into a time warp. You really got the feeling that you were visiting a real cattle town; it was so nicely done.
A little further down the hallway and I found myself in a rodeo exhibition ring complete with bucking broncos, clowns and cowboys everywhere you looked. There was quite a history on display and one could learn a lot here.
There was also a Native American Gallery, Western Performers Gallery, Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West and so much more.
I only spent two and a half hours there but I could have easily spent four or five hours and really learned a lot about this fascinating part of our history. As a matter of fact, next time I am in Oklahoma City, I will definitely plan another trip. Because it was winter, I did not get to see any of the beautiful gardens and grounds of the museum.
I did get to see a temporary exhibit of National Geographic Photographs that showed some nostalgic western scenes. There was no warning not to take photos so here are some of the highlights of that exhibit