While we were in Moore, OK, last month, we took a Sunday afternoon off from tornado cleanup, and visited the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Located in Oklahoma City, it was a short drive north, where we found the classy museum situated on lovely, manicured grounds.
Inside the museum, there is a nice gift shop, then the ticket counter, and the exhibits start right there in the lobby; the museum is the home of the original End of the Trail statue. After checking out the large white carving, where you go and what you see next is up to you! On one side of the museum are huge paintings located in a ballroom – the 5 different scenes, each depicted on 3 huge paintings, show beautiful national treasures like the Yellowstone Falls or Monument Valley. Some we recognized from our travels, and the others we decided we needed to visit! 🙂 (does an RVer ever get to cross off everything on their bucket list? We seem to just keep adding to ours!) Also, on that end of the building is a charming little restaurant with what looked like a great breakfast buffet!
On the other end of the building are multiple exhibits, including a fun Livery Stable area that is darkened as if you were walking the streets of an old west town at night. There are lots of buildings that you can go into, informative displays, and (our favorite) even a jail cell. My tribe got their just desserts here when they were locked in the jail room beneath the twinkling stars; made of strap steel, like that used to wrap wagon wheels, the jail rooms could be easily made should the long arm of the law suddenly need more room to lock up the bad guys (like when my tribe was arrested)! There was even a sheriff to slam the door behind them! …tho after they were released, he gave us a great talk about the firearm display located on the wall next to the jail room! 😉
There were so many displays in the museum – they ranged anywhere from cases full of movie memorabilia to life-size dioramas of chuck-wagon scenes out on the prairies. The museum showcased all aspects of cowboy life from Hollywood then and now, back to the Old West, and forward to present day …and everything in between. The rodeo circuit was covered as was ranch life on the open range; being on a limited time-frame, we weren’t able to check out the barbed wire display, but you may want to make a stop in that room and check out their extensive collection (displayed very tastefully I must say). 🙂 With several galleries full of lovely western/cowboy artwork, it’s a great stop for art enthusiasts even if you aren’t a cowboy (per se..).
The museum was a great visit for the whole family (we travel with kids of all ages 😉 and mom and dad liked it too!). The younger kids’ favorite part of the museum is actually a separate building called the Children’s Cowboy Corral. It’s a huge open room full of activities for young cowpokes to indulge their cowboy fancies in. They had a cowboy camp all set up with a little log house, a cooking tri-pod over the campfire, even a pot of beans and a tin plates to eat off of. There were activities like large puzzles to complete, touch and feel tables, touch screen monitors, and our favorite – a dress up area! They had bonnets, leather chaps and vests, and even pint sized cowboy boots for the kids to wear while we were there! Caleb’s favorite part of the building was the horse-back riding – which was saddles mounted on logs for the kids to pretend ride on; Caleb loved it because he could get on and off the littlest one all by himself (he’s one). We spent over an hour in the kid’s corral while the bigs and dad checked out the galleries.
The NCM was a hit with everyone in our family!!! We only had about 3 hours to spend there, but we would love to go back (when we go back to help Moore rebuild!) and spend more time reading the displays, checking out the artwork, and trying all those dress-up clothes on again! If you find yourself driving through Oklahoma be sure to take time out to visit the well-done National Cowboy Museum! I think you’ll enjoy it – it’s not just for cowpokes you know!!!