Located in Oklahoma City, the Western History Museum strives to preserve and present the rich cultural heritage of the American West. It is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute and offers research materials, archives, family-friendly activities, and more. The museum also aims to give visitors an authentic experience of the turn-of-the-century Western prairie town. Guests can stroll the town’s streets, listen to antique player pianos, and peek into the windows of a store.
The museum also offers exhibits on the history of the Western frontier. The Hall of Great Westerners honors individuals who were active in the West during the frontier era. There are seven permanent galleries that display the museum’s holdings. These galleries include the American Cowboy Gallery, which is designed to evoke the feel of an old ranch house. It also features cowboy tools of the trade.
The museum also features an authentic mine tour. Visitors can see the Lavender Pit, which was used to extract 600,000 tons of copper. In addition, visitors can walk the streets of Prosperity Junction, an authentic turn-of-the-century Western prairie village. During the annual holiday open house, the town comes alive with historical figures.
The museum also features an exhibition on decorative weaponry. These works celebrate the 19th and 20th century and feature a wide variety of Western weaponry. In particular, visitors can view “Pistols: Dazzling Firearms,” which features 50 exceptional American firearms.
The museum also hosts exhibitions that highlight women Western artists. One of the current exhibitions, “Cowgirl Up!,” will be on display through September. This exhibition will feature a 200-pound decorated saddle. Guests can also see costumes and movie stills. The museum hopes to eventually build a collection of Western art by women.
The Autry Museum also hosted an exhibition titled “Encounters: El Norte — The Spanish and Mexican North” that brought together the collections of the Southwest Museum and Autry Museum. The exhibition included a 45-minute film presentation and 87 objects. The museum also incorporated Hispanic material into the exhibition, which enhanced the story of encounters.
The museum also features a collection of paintings. This collection includes works by California artists, as well as those by the people of California. It also featured a large oil painting by Clark Hulings, which depicts a mule team crossing the Grand Canyon Trail in deep winter snow. The museum also features a large collection of Western art, including paintings by Frederic Remington, Rick Bartow, and Eanger Irving Couse.
The museum has also been known to donate sculptures every year. One of these sculptures is a bronze sculpture of John Free. The sculpture is given annually to a person who has made a significant contribution to Western arts and culture.
A few years ago, the museum hired John Gray to help lead the museum. Gray was previously an associate deputy administrator of the Small Business Administration in Washington, D.C. His business background helped offset the shortfall in operating expenses. He was also hired after a national search for a museum director.