Bob woke up and ran seven miles on trails around our campground at Arcadia Lake. Way to go, Bob! Even though we were in an overflow site at Arcadia Lake's Central State Park, this site was way better than either of our Passport America sites in North Platte and Elm City, Nebraska.
Took it easy this morning and headed out for the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum around noon. We arrived at 12:30 p.m. We thought we weren't going to go because both of us felt "museum'd out." However, Wednesdays are free at the museum until November. The Oklahoma Visitor Center told us this museum is a "must see," and someone else told us the same thing. So we went to see what all the fuss was about.
Wow! National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum In Oklahoma City rivals the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming in its scope.
I have to back up at this point to the day we toured the Golden Spike Tower in Nebraska because we learned something there about Buffalo Bill Cody's Wild West Shows that we did not learn at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody. Here's the interesting fact we learned about Buffalo Bill Cody in North Platte, NE: His show entourage with all the performers and animals traveled together around the country on three separate trains. An engineer in a train on a siding in the Carolinas did not realize that Buffalo Bill's show was traveling in three trains. After the first train passed, the engineer pulled his train out onto the main line and collided head on with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show's second train. About 90 of the Wild West Show's 110 trained horses were killed in the accident. Buffalo Bill still toured after the accident, but his shows were not as big or flamboyant and they eventually died out.
Back to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum: The first piece of art to catch our eyes was "The Remuda," by artist Tom Ryan. It is a 360'-long mural stretching across the entire western facade of the museum. Here's a partial pic:
|"The Remuda" by Tom Ryan.|
As we entered the museum, a docent greeted us, handed us a map and explained the best way to enjoy the displays. Directly behind the docent was a massive original plaster sculpture of "The End of the Trail," by James Earle Fraser. You may recognize it as it has been copied many times as small, souvenir-type gifts.
|"The End of the Trail." 18' tall and weighs four tons.|
This original plaster sculpture was made before the lost wax technique of bronze sculptures. It was in a park in California, decayed by years in the elements. The piece was restored to its former magnificence, then a bronze sculpture was cast from the original and returned to the park in California.
Thus started our visit to the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum. Pictures were allowed only in certain galleries, some areas allowed photos but no flash. My blog for today contains the best of the pics I was able to take.
Bob and I were massively impressed and overwhelmed by the size and scope of this museum. The art collections, especially the in-house exhibition Prix de West, were so wonderful.
The second big sculpture we viewed was "Canyon Princess," by Gerald Balciar, carved from a single block of Colorado yule marble. The museum had to reinforce the floor underneath where the sculpture would reside. The artist brought the sculpture to the museum to finish sculpting it. Amazing piece!
|"Canyon Princess," by Gerald Balciar.|
|18' tall, 16,000 pound white cougar.|
Galleries in the museum include:
- Robert S. and Grayce B. Kerr Changing Exhibition Gallery which features touring exhibitions and special in-house exhibitions including the Prix de West.
- Arthur and Shifra Silberman Gallery of Native American Art showcases Native American fine art.
- William S. and Ann Atherton Art of the American West Gallery is home to the prized pieces from the museum's permanent collection, including painting and sculptures from Prix de West award winners and works from master artists such as Frederic Remington, Charles Russell, Albert Bierstadt and William Leigh.
- The Weltzenhoffer Gallery of Fine American Firearms showcasing Colt, Remington, Winchester and Sharps firearms.
- Native American Gallery has displays to show how different Native American tribes expressed their world view through design elements on everything from clothing to tools to utensils.
- Western Performers Gallery uses film, posters, and memorabilia to show how actors have contributed to people's perception of cowboys and the Wild West. Large displays trace different western actors. John Wayne occupies a large portion of the gallery and includes his personal collection of firearms, kachinas and artwork.
- American Cowboy Gallery. A tribute to working cowboys showing the history of many different cowboys in American history include vaqueros, Spanish, and paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys). Collections in this gallery include types of saddles, bridles, bits, spurs, barbed wire, brands and the rawhide works of master braider Luis Ortega. One interesting fact we learned about paniolos in Hawaii is that when it came time to send the cattle to market, they were herded into the ocean, tied to skiffs and rowed out to the big ships which hoisted them aboard and put them in above-board pens for their voyage to market.
- The Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West. In this gallery, exhibits dealt with the military role in the West, hunting on the frontier, mountain men, and Native Americans. We had limited time in this area as we were running short on time.
- American Rodeo Gallery was set in a life-like 1950s arena. It has artifacts of rodeos, including history, champions, clothing, equipment, awards and memorabilia. To me, the most interesting part of this gallery were the video screens that showed different rodeo sports and narrated what the judges look for, what type of injuries the athletes sustained and the percentage of injuries racked up in each sport. We were not able to see everything in this gallery due to time constraints.
- Robert and Grace Eldridge Gallery. We ran out of time and didn't get to this part of the museum.
- Prosperity Junction: A circa 1900 Western cattle town at dusk where you could look in the windows and sometimes enter the shops. Full-scale structures include a saloon, school, telegraph office, livery, jail, newspaper office, mercantile, church and blacksmith.
- Children's Cowboy Corral: kid-size section of the museum where kids can put on western garb, check out a cowboy campsite, and see a diorama of a cowboy on horseback with a cougar on the bluff above him.
Outside is another world and a nice relief from the cold temperatures in the museum. Here's what you find outside:
- The Atherton Garden.
- The Norma Sutherland Garden with waterfall and peaceful ponds, natural vegetation.
- Western States Plaza--plants, fountains, art and arhcitecture.
- The Jack and Phoebe Cooke Gardens (my personal favorite). Follow flagstone walks, native plantings, and winding streams to the graves of rodeo bulls, horses, steer, and a steer wresting horse. Sculptures are beautiful out here and include a monstrous "Buffalo Bill," by Leonard McMurry; the "Paint Mare and Filly," by Veryl Goodnight; "Herons," by Walter T. Matia; "Bald Eagle Off Cannery Point," by Sandy Scott, and "Ring of Bright Water," by Kent Ullberg.
To cap off our visit, the docent suggested we see artist Wilson Hurley's five panoramic murals (triptychs--panels of three) of the American West in the Sam Noble Special Events Center. Each PANEL of the triptych measures 18' x 46'. They are AMAZING!
Photos of the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum follow:
|"Hints for Plains Travelers" (Double-click to read.)|
The Norma Sutherland Garden:
|Beauty berries...I love the color!|
|Barbed wire in pull-out cases.|
|Double click to read.|
American Rodeo Gallery:
The Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West:
Sam Noble Special Events Center with triptych murals by Wilson Hurley.
|Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone|
|Monument Valley, Utah|
The Jack & Phoebe Cooke Gardens:
|"Ring of Bright Water," by Kent Ullberg|
|"Herons," by Walter T. Matia.|
|"Paint Mare and Filly," by Veryl Goodnight.|
|"Buffalo Bill," by Leonard McMurry (backside)|
|"Buffalo Bill," by Leonard McMurry (frontside silhouette)|
|"Bald Eagle Off Cannery Point," by Sandy Scott|
"Abraham Lincoln," by James Earl Fraser:
We closed the museum down at 5:00 p.m. and realized we hadn't had lunch. Drove around for a bit and found Braum's. It's like an upscale Dairy Queen. We hadn't been to one before. We enjoyed our lunches and headed back to the 5er to feed the fur-kids. They were happy to see us.
Upon re-reading an Oklahoma City guide book from the Visitor Center, I learned there was an Oklahoma City Redhawks vs. Albuquerque Isotopes AAA baseball game tonight. Guess what? We went to it. Very nice evening, although it was quite warm even after the sun went down. The Redhawks won handily.
When the game was over, we rode the free trolley around downtown. Couldn't see much at night, but we gave it a shot anyway.
After the trolley, we walked in the Brickhouse/Canal District which is trying to be a San Antonio Riverwalk. There were a few restaurants and bars open. The water taxis were running even at 10:30 p.m.
We made it back to 5er around midnight. Waited until today to post the blog from yesterday.
Travel Bug out.