Wednesday, January 14, 2015

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum: a Photo Essay

Last November, my sister and her husband came to Oklahoma from Wisconsin for a visit. Once upon many, many years ago, my grandparents came to Oklahoma City to visit what was then known as the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center. Living in Oklahoma, my Mom felt it only right that I inherited Grandma's 1973 scrapbook, which includes ephemera from the museum.

Grandma was quite well-known for saving ephemera and taking photos. I may have inherited a little bit of this from her.

Long before the selfie and the scrapbookers of today, my Grandma kept records of her life—where she did, what she ate, where they slept, all of it. Literally. This is not hyperbole, Grandma was a spectacular record-keeper. I wish today that I had the letters she hand-wrote to me over the years, the ones that shared in great detail all the nuances of her life. She was quite a woman.

I adore my grandmother for so many reasons, one of which is her propensity for saving things that seem small but are ultimately meaningful. How cool to have this collection of old memorabilia, peppered with handwritten notes from Grandma?

Grandma's scrapbook
With my sister in town and the kids in school, the four adults headed up to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum for a trip of our own. What a thrill to see that we were walking through some of the very halls our Grandparents had walked through over 40 years before.

If you've never been to the museum before, I highly recommend you check it out. There is a diverse and amazing collection of western-themed art, historical exhibits, and an old-west themed town called Prosperity Junction, where many of these photos were taken. If you have kids, there is a Corral all for them out back where they can enjoy plenty of hands-on fun including cowboy dress up (some of my favorite pictures of my kids were taken there at various stages in their lives). The grounds of the museum are also incredibly beautiful; we were lucky to be there when the trees were turning gorgeous shades of bright orange and red, truly a sight to behold.

I'll be tucking away my own brochures for my kids to stumble on one day. Grandma saved all sorts of things that make me smile now, like this old map of the city:

There's a note in her hand next to the OKC Zoo and the Firefighters Museum, venues they were saving for their next trip to the city, but I don't know that they ever made it down to Oklahoma again. Grandma may have saved this map for that next trip—but based on this note on the back, she may have had another more practical reason.


  1. Loving memory lane with grandma. You do have a gift of bringing readers right into the story.

  2. What a gift that scrapbook is! It's been a long time since I visited the museum. I need to make another trip there,

  3. I love seeing things through past and future generations' eyes :)

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