National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame

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National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame in Fort Worth, Texas.
High Desert Princess equestrian statue at National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame.
Caption at base of High Desert Princess statue.

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is dedicated to honoring women of the American West who have displayed extraordinary courage and pioneering fortitude. Since its as established in 1975, the Museum is an educational resource with exhibits, a research library, rare photography collection and annually adds Honorees to its Hall of Fame.

Background[edit]

The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and documents the lives of women of the American West. The museum was started in 1975 in the basement of the Deaf Smith County Library in Hereford but moved to Fort Worth in 1994. The museum then moved into its 33,000 square-foot permanent location in the Cultural District of Fort Worth on June 9, 2002.

As of 2013, there are over 200 Cowgirl Hall of Fame honorees, with additional women being added annually. Honorees include women from a variety of fields, including pioneers, artists, businesswomen, educators, ranchers and rodeo cowgirls. Women already in the hall of fame include Georgia O'Keeffe, Sacagawea, Annie Oakley, Dale Evans. Enid Justin, Temple Grandin and Sandra Day O’Connor.

Construction and design[edit]

Groundbreaking took place on February 22, 2001. The 33,000 square foot building was designed by architech David M. Schwarz/Architectural Services, Inc. Linbeck Construction Company built the structure and Sundance Projects Group, provided project management. Additional members of the construction/design team included: Gideon/Toal Architects, architect of record; Datum Engineers, structural engineers; and Summit Engineering, mechanical engineering.

There was a threefold goal in its design: to relate the building to the historic context of the site, to create a vibrant new space as the home for the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, and to provide expansion possibilities for the Museum as its collections grow. The building’s location was part of the Western Heritage Plaza to be formed by the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, the Cattle Raisers Museum and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History. The style of the building is compatible with the nearby Will Rogers Memorial Center. The exterior is constructed with brick and cast stone with terra cotta finials formed in a ‘wild rose’ motif and glazed in vibrant colors. A large painted mural by Richard Haas, bas-relief sculpture panels, and a series of hand-carved cast relief panels show scenes related to the Cowgirl’s story and depict thematic messages such as ‘East Meets West’ and ‘Saddle Your Own Horse’ that represent the story told inside the Museum.

The Museum’s interior is designed to provide a clear circulation path for visitors and creates central spaces for after-hours functions. In addition to administrative offices, the building also includes three gallery areas, a multipurpose theater, hands-on children’s areas, a flexible exhibit space, research library, catering area, and a retail store. A 45–foot-high domed rotunda serves as an orienting point and houses the Hall of Fame honoree exhibits. Two grand staircases providing overlooks into the rotunda are made of different metal finishes and colors with art deco inspired ornamental railings. The floors are a honed Corton Bressandes French limestone on the ground floor. Doors of stained walnut mark the entrance to the theater. Western themes are found throughout including native flowers, horse heads and the wild rose motif.

Exhibits[edit]

A 1915 photograph by Walter S. Bowman of Bonnie McCarroll being thrown from a horse named Silver at the Pendleton Round-Up (Part of the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame photography collection)

The areas of the museum include the Spirit of the Cowgirl Theater, the Lifetiles murals, the children's Discovery Corral, the retail Cowgirl Shop and a large Rotating Exhibit Gallery. Permanent galleries include:

  • The Hall of Fame Honoree Gallery features one honoree from each of the Hall of Fame categories: Champions and Competitive Performers, Ranchers (Stewards of Land and Livestock), Entertainers, Artists and Writers, and Trailblazers and Pioneers
  • "Into the Arena," which covers women in the fields of rodeo and trick riding, as well as modern horsewomen of note such as Belmont Stakes winning jockey Julie Krone. It has interactive computer displays, rodeo memorabilia, clothing, and other rodeo artifacts. The area also displays saddles such as Sheila Welch’s cutting horse saddle, and Julie Krone's racing saddle. Rodeo fashions are displayed in “Arena Style,” where a rotating rack moves in direct response to a flat-panel, touch-screen display placed in front of the case featuring details and additional information about various outfits, threading together a rodeo star’s story with her corresponding clothing. Also in this gallery is an interactive bronc riding experience, where visitors can ride a fake horse that has been modified from training bulls used by rodeo riders. Visitor’s "rides" can be videoed, and then sped up, and transformed into footage from an old-style rodeo for purchase.
  • "Kinship with the Land," which includes exhibits related to ranching, including historic gear including saddles, women's clothing such as split skirts, pistols, a Victorian riding habit and a sidesaddle. It has both graphic panels and plasma screen displays. An interactive exhibit allows children to saddle a model Shetland pony, and other displays for children, show children's chaps, 4-H ribbons and a selection of toys.
  • "Claiming the Spotlight" shows the cowgirl as represented in media, and the varying roles the archetypical cowgirl has played in film, television, advertising and music. The gallery includes a collection of dime novels, displays on entertainers who have portrayed cowgirls such as Barbara Stanwyck, Dale Evans, and Patsy Montana. The gallery includes an old-time theater with a looping film narrated by Katharine Ross[1] about portrayals of cowgirls in mass media, a television area featuring clips from 1950s era series, and jukeboxes playing music by country and western women performers. Interactive exhibits allow Visitors to pose for a movie poster and purchase the ensuing image at the gift shop.

The Rotating Exhibit Gallery has hosted past exhibits including: Donna Howell-Sickles: The Timeless Image of the Cowgirl; Georgia O'Keeffe and the Faraway: Nature and Image; Going to Texas: Five Centuries of Texas Maps; Paniolo: Cowboys and Cowgirls of the Hawaiian Frontier; Photographing Montana 1894-1928: The World of Evelyn Cameron; Ride: A Global Adventure; Texas Flags; The Cowgirl Who Became A Justice: Sandra Day O'Connor, Hard Twist: Western Ranch Women - Photographs by Barbara Van Cleve and No Glitz, No Glory.

Hall of Fame honorees[edit]

The following people have been honored:[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ http://www.cowgirl.net/Spotlight.html
  2. ^ All past Honorees, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, USA. Accessed April 28, 2010.
  3. ^ Ruth Roach Salmon, National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame, retrieved February 15, 2011.
  4. ^ "Jan Youren". National Cowgirl Hall of Fame. Retrieved October 28, 2010. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 32°44′36″N 97°22′9″W / 32.74333°N 97.36917°W / 32.74333; -97.36917