Blog Reminiscences – Oklahoma Museums
After moving to Colorado, we maintained our quest to visit museums that housed paintings of the West, and Indian and Cowboy cultures. Carl Barho, from the Country Store Gallery, had told us about the Cowboy Artists of America and had mentioned the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City and the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa. We decided on one of our trips from the Air Force Academy to Houston to go through Oklahoma to visit relatives in Oklahoma City and Ft Worth and to also visit the Oklahoma museums on an early Bucket List. Both of these museums have outstanding exhibits that would be enjoyable for anyone who has an interest in American history.
“The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is America’s premier institution of Western history, art and culture. Founded in 1955, the Museum, located in Oklahoma City, collects, preserves, and exhibits an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts while sponsoring dynamic educational programs to stimulate interest in the enduring legacy of the American West. More than 10 million visitors from around the world have sought out this unique museum to gain better understanding of the West: a region and a history that permeates our national culture. The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum features a superb collection of classic and contemporary Western art, including works by Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell, as well as sculptor James Earle Fraser’s magnificent work, The End of the Trail. The exhibition wing houses a turn-of-the-century town and interactive history galleries that focus on the American cowboy, rodeo, and Native American culture.” As it turned out, when we visited this museum, they were also having a Cowboy Artists of America exhibit which was well worth the trip by itself.
The second leg of the visit was to Tulsa to go through the Gilcrease Museum. This is a remarkable museum, and a visit to the website can give you a good appreciation of their collections. From the web writeup, you can gain an appreciation of Thomas Gilcrease and his collections which form the foundation of the museum’s collections. “The museum that bears both his name and his spirit now, as during Gilcrease’s lifetime, houses the largest collection of Western American art ever assembled – and a fine art collection of more than 12,000 works. The Helmerich Center for American Research at Gilcrease Museum houses the vast archival collection acquired by Gilcrease, some 100,000 rare books, manuscripts and other archival material, much of it unique. Gilcrease Museum’s galleries and vaults display and store over a quarter million extraordinary artifacts related to the aboriginal people of the Americas.”