Even if the thought of cowboys doesn’t whirl your lariat, the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum is a must-see. Fabulous western art, sculpture and Native American items fill the rooms, and you’ll find many other aspects of the culture – from Spanish colonials to rodeo and rhinestone cowboys – represented here, too.
As you enter the museum, you can’t miss the monumental “End of the Trail” by James Earle Fraser. The sculpture, actually plaster, was created for the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco. The museum’s art galleries contain works by many artists but hold particularly fine examples of works by Frederic Remington and Charles Russell. Other galleries feature cowboy life and work, tack, tools and traditions.
Kids enjoy playing in the Cowboy Corral and both adults and children love exploring Prosperity Junction, a re-created turn-of-the-last-century town. The grounds around the museum are beautifully landscaped and showcase sculpture and memorials to famous western horses and rodeo animals.
Plan a couple of hours for your visit – and you may not get through everything. Don’t miss the massive Wilson Hurley triptychs of the American West in the special events center. A stop at the gift shop on the way out gives you the opportunity to pick up a souvenir or two – or even jewelry, clothing, décor and gifts.
The Museum Grill is open for lunch Tuesday through Sunday. The menu features soups, salads and sandwiches with several vegetarian options.