A Morning at the Museum

Oklahoma City Travel Blog

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"Canyon Princess"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

 

We were up, ready, and on the road by 9 AM. That put us about a half hour behind. I wanted to be at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum when it first opened at nine. I was really looking forward to today. I had read a lot of good things about this museum and the second museum we would be visiting, today, and I was really looking forward to both.  

 

I had the address for the museum programmed into my GPS, and as we traveled east on I-40, and then seemingly into the suburban hills of OKC, I was starting to think that TomTom was about to let me down.

"Heritage and Hope" by Shawn Cameron (photo courtesy of The Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum")
I was about to reach for my trusty Rand McNally back up, when he museum was sighted. Parking was free and as it was only 9:30 on a Wednesday, the museum was definitely not busy.

 

We paid our admission and headed for art portion of the museum. I was anxious to see the Russells and Remingtons, that were part of the museum’s permanent collection. I do not have an eye for fine art, but I know what I like. Charles Russell and Frederic Remington are extremely well known painters of the American West of 100 plus years ago. But, before we could reach them we were stopped by a huge sculpture of a mountain lion, done in white marble. The piece was titled “Canyon Princess” and it was done in marble from Marble, CO. Marble is a small mining town near Glenwood Springs that has produced some of the finest white marble in the world. Stone from Marble was used to make the Lincoln Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. I need to get up there to visit.

 

But, I digress.

"1876, Gall, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse" This statue won the top prize in The Prix de West show
“Canyon Princess” turned out to be a harbinger of things to come. The NCWHM has an annual art show/competition called Prix de West. It is invitational only, and the best western artists in the world show their works here. We wandered into the gallery featuring these works and I positively fell in love with the works of Shawn Cameron. I mentioned I know nothing of art, but I know what I like. We spent more than an hour wandering from painting to painting, sculpture to sculpture admiring everyone. I have never enjoyed an art museum, not even the Denver Art Museum (no slouch on western art) as much as I enjoyed this one area of the NCWHM.

 

The one thing I really did not like was the restrictions on picture taking. Some areas you could, some you couldn’t and some you could, but with no flash. I thought that it was to prevent the degradation of the paint, but I got in trouble for taking a picture of a sculpture.

Margo
So I don’t know why. But, on line were pictures of everything in the Prix de West show, so I borrowed one or two for the blog.

 

The NCWHM is not just an art museum. Margo and I did find the Russells and Remingtons, in the Art of the American West Gallery (guarded by “Canyon Princess”) but some we soon moved on to the other exhibits. We enjoyed Prosperity Junction. The museum had set up an old west town, in a serious of buildings. You could wander into the saloon, or the sheriff’s office. We found the school house and the doctor’s office. All were furnished with period artifacts and a number of them, like the jail, were guest interactive. I think Margo particularly enjoyed seeing me incarcerated in the Sheriff’s authentic jail. We left Prosperity Junction just in time, as a family with loud and rude kids showed up right behind us.

 

We moved on the Western Performers Gallery.

"I didn't do it"
This featured exhibits, biographies, and artifacts from many noted western actors. John Wayne, Jimmy Steward, Barbara Stanwick, and many others all had their live told through words, pictures, artifacts, personal belongings, and even sound and pictures. There were interactive exhibits here as well. Any fan of Western movies or Western TV shows is in hog heaven here. It was easy to lose track of time.

 

The American Rodeo Gallery was also very memorable. Here the museum had a rodeo arena setup, and as you walk through and around it you encounter various displays telling the history of rodeo, rodeo events, and the champions from those events. Overhead is a large monitor that runs a loop documentary, coupled with the grandstands gives you a chance to rest your feet.

 

We went  kind of quickly through the Fire Arms Gallery, that had a real Gatlin Gun on display, in addition to the 100s (1000s?) of other weapons, and the Native American Gallery.

John Wayne
I hated the fact that we could not take pictures, as so much of the above was photoworthy. I guess you will have to see it yourself.

 

We were getting hungry and we were pressed for time. We had another museum that held equal interest to see. But, we were not leaving with out seeing “The End of The Trail”. Actually, we had seen it. You can’t miss it. The sculpture is very famous. It has been reproduced many times, and in many sizes. The original is 18 feet tall. It depicts an Indian mounted on a pony, with a battle spear cradled in his arm, point down. Both the Indian and pony are bowed in a pronounced posture of exhaustion. When you see it, you will recognize it.

 

It has an interesting history. The artist, James Earle Frasure, created it in 1915 for the Panama Pacific International Exposition.

"The End of the Trail"
It won a gold medal. The casting was in plaster, and when it was eventually put on display in California the weather did a number on it. The CMWHM bought it restored it, and put it on display. In addition, they had it cast in bronze and almost fulfilled the sculptor’s desire to have it permanently on display, in bronze. Frasure wanted it at The Presido near San Francisco. It is instead, in Visalia, CA. After that we ate lunch at the museum, took a few more pictures (Lincoln and John Wayne) and headed out to the car.

 

We were very pleased with the time we spent here.

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Canyon Princess
"Canyon Princess"
Heritage and Hope by Shawn Camer…
"Heritage and Hope" by Shawn Came…
1876, Gall, Sitting Bull, and Cra…
"1876, Gall, Sitting Bull, and Cr…
Margo
Margo
I didnt do it
"I didn't do it"
John Wayne
John Wayne
The End of the Trail
"The End of the Trail"
The End of The Trail
"The End of The Trail"
The Cowboy Museum and Western Hist…
The Cowboy Museum and Western His…
Margo does a great job with her cl…
Margo does a great job with her c…
Me, looking forelored as there is …
Me, looking forelored as there is…
Abe Lincoln
Abe Lincoln
abt John Wayne
abt John Wayne
John Wayne
John Wayne
John Wayne
John Wayne
Ronald Regean
Ronald Regean
The End of the Trail
"The End of the Trail"
abt End of the Trail
abt "End of the Trail"
more abt End of the Trail
more abt "End of the Trail"
abt James Earle Frasure
abt James Earle Frasure
Welcome Sundown
"Welcome Sundown"
See I told you it was Welcome Sun…
See I told you it was "Welcome Su…
about Canyon Princess
about Canyon Princess
Abe Lincoln
Abe Lincoln
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