A combination living history and local history museum, this complex features a number of historic and recreated buildings (including a Santa Fe Railroad Depot, a one-room schoolhouse, and a carriage/blacksmith's shop), Old West tours and performances, tourist attractions, and museum exhibits. The museum thrills visitors with recreations of the sensationalized gunfights that were featured in the fictional accounts of the era's dime novels, but also offers exhibits and events that offer a more authentic, if less dramatic, view of life for residents of the Kansas frontier. The museum was founded in 1964.
The museum tries to offer something for everyone, from popular Old West displays about guns and saloon culture to exhibits about family life, agriculture, business, religion, and life for women and children. There are also a handful of exhibits that detail the history of some Native American tribes and individuals. For those who truly wish to study history, the museum's research library is open to the public and includes over 60,000 objects, photographs, and documents, most of which come from the first settlers and residents of Dodge City.