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The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is a museum in Oklahoma Citymarker, Oklahomamarker. It houses more than 28,000 Western and American Indian art works and artifacts. The facility is also home to the most extensive collection of American rodeo, photographs, barbed wire, saddlery, and early rodeo trophies in the world. The Museum collections focus on preserving and interpreting the heritage of the American West. Occasionally, the Museum becomes an art gallery, during an annual Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale each year in June. The Prix de West Artists sell original works of art as a fund raiser for the Museum.


It was established in 1955 as the Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum, from an idea proposed by Chester A. Reynolds, to honor the cowboy and his era. Later that same year, the named was changed to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum. In 1960 the name was changed aqain to the "National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center." The American Association of Museums gave the museum full accreditation in 2000, the year the museum took on its present name.

To maintain the memory of the founder, the museum grants the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award. This prize is granted to a person or institution contributing in the preservation of American West History and Heritage.


The museum encompasses more than of display space, The museum's collection includes over 2,000 works of western art, the "William S. and Ann Atherton Art of the American West Gallery". There is a exhibit space which contains landscapes, portraits, colorful still lifes and sculptures by 19th and 20th-century artists. It includes over 200 works by Charles Marion Russell, Frederic Remington, Albert Bierstadt, Solon Borglum, Thurmond Restuettenhall Robert Lougheed, Charles Schreyvogel and other early artists lead to the Museum's prize collection of contemporary Western art created over the last 30 years by award-winning Prix de West artists. The collection also includes over 700 pieces by Edward S. Curtis, and over 350 from Joe DeYong.

The historical galleries include the American Cowboy Gallery, a look at the life and traditions of a working cowboy and ranching history; the American Rodeo Gallery, fashioned after a 1950s rodeo arena, provides a look at America's native sport; the Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West Gallery, which exhibits some of the more than 4,500 artifacts once belonging to Western artist Joe Grandee; the Native American Gallery, focusing on the embellishments that Western tribes made to their everyday objects to reflect their beliefs and histories, and; the Weitzenhoffer Gallery of Fine American Firearms, which houses over a hundred examples of firearms, by Colt, Remington, Smith & Wesson, Sharps, Winchester, Marlin, and Parker Brothers, used to tame the West.

The Museum also houses Prosperity Junction, a authentic turn-of-the-century Western prairie town. Visitors can stroll the streets, peek in some of the store windows and actually walk into some of the fully furnished buildings. The town comes alive with historical figures once a year during the Museum's annual holiday open house, "A Night Before Christmas".

Western Heritage Awards

"The Wrangler" in bronze.
Every year the Museum gives "The Wrangler", an original bronze sculpture by artist John Free. It is awarded annually during the Western Heritage Awards to principal creators of the winning entries in specified categories of Western literature, music, film and television. Past winners have included Owen Wister, William S. Hart, Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy, Harry Carey, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, Rex Allen, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Richard Widmark, James Stewart, Buck Taylor, Howard R. Lamar, Ben Johnson and Tom Selleck.

The Rodeo Hall of Fame recipients are not honored during the Western Heritage Awards. They celebrate at another event and inductees receive medallions instead of "The Wrangler".

Halls of Fame

The Museum includes three Halls of Fame, including The Hall of Great Westerners for actual people who lived through the frontier era to present. Other halls include the Hall of Great Western Performers, for actors only, and the Rodeo Hall of Fame.

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