National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is America’s premier institution of Western history, art and culture. Founded in 1955, the museum in Oklahoma City collects, preserves and exhibits an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts while sponsoring dynamic educational programs and ground-breaking scholarly research to stimulate interest in the enduring legacy of our American West. More than 10 million visitors from around the world have sought out this unique museum to gain better understanding of the West: a region and a history that permeates our national culture.
Backstory and Context
The museum was originally 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 name was changed to the National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Museum. In 1960, the name was changed again to the "National Cowboy Hall of Fame and Western Heritage Center". The American Alliance 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 to the preservation of American West history and heritage.