About The Museum
MISSION STATEMENT: The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire.
WHAT: The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is the only museum in the world dedicated to honoring women of the American West who have displayed extraordinary courage and pioneer spirit in their trailblazing efforts. It includes interactive exhibit galleries that feature artifacts of the permanent collection, a traveling exhibit gallery, two theaters, gift shop, and a research library and archives. Currently, the museum’s archives house more than 4000 artifacts and information about more than 750 remarkable women.
WHEN: Started in 1975, in the basement of the Deaf Smith County Library in Hereford, Texas, the Museum and Hall of Fame moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in 1994 to plan for and build a new permanent home.
WHERE: The 33,000 square-foot National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is found on the Will Rogers Memorial Complex located in the heart of Fort Worth’s Cultural District, which is also home to the Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth Museum of Science and History and the Amon Carter Museum.
WHO: The 238 National Cowgirl Hall of Fame Honorees include pioneers, artists, writers, entertainers, humanitarians, business women, educators, ranchers and rodeo cowgirls including: Sacagawea, principal guide for the Lewis and Clark expedition; painter Georgia O’Keeffe; potter Maria Martinez; writer Laura Ingalls Wilder; sharpshooter Annie Oakley; Enid Justin, who created the multi-million dollar Nocona Boot Company; Hollywood icon Dale Evans and U. S. Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor.
The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame had its beginning in 1975 in the Texas Panhandle community of Hereford, TX, about forty miles southwest of Amarillo. Realizing that women of the American West had been largely overlooked for their accomplishments, this visionary group in Hereford, set history straight.
Housed in the basement of the Deaf Smith County Library, its first collections were modest: a few belt buckles, bandannas and some Western artwork. But by the time they were moved to a private home in 1982, artifacts had blossomed into vintage photos, rare books, saddles, costumes and more. The Museum’s purpose wasn’t just to preserve cowgirl history. It was to share it. In 1993, the board led by Executive Director Margaret Formby began a search for a new site to broaden the Museum’s educational reach.
On June 9, 2002, a glimmer of an idea conceived 27 years earlier became reality. Nested in the heart of Fort Worth’s Cultural District, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame took its place among other museum giants: the Kimbell Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum, the Amon Carter Museum, the Museum of Science and History, and the Will Rogers Memorial Center.
World-class teams designed and constructed the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame – entirely appropriate for the stories contained inside. Designed by David M. Schwarz, the exterior style is cowgirl — from wild-rose finials and bas-relief sculpture panels to a Richard Haas mural and hand carved panels. Central spaces, indoors and outdoors, allow for after-hour events under the Texas stars.
In 2015, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame began renovations of its galleries and public spaces. The renovation was completed in two phases, starting with the first floor. Renovations of the first floor were completed in July 2015, which included the Grand Rotunda mobile, the Anne W. Marion Gallery, and the Hitting the Mark: Cowgirls and Wild West Shows Gallery which highlights those women who were immensely popular during the heyday of wild west shows, like Annie Oakley.
The $5.5 million renovation of its second floor began in early 2018 and was reopened in March of 2019. The second floor contains the Kit Moncrief Galleries, of which the It’s Never Just a Horse™ exhibition examines the partnership between people and horses, particularly the Museum’s Honorees. The interior spaces were designed by the Paris architect firm, Projectiles. Two immersion rooms complete the second floor experience, including an interactive project table created exclusively for the Museum by Ideum.
The Right Horse Initiative
As a partner in The Right Horse Initiative, we’re proud to support a national movement re-framing the conversation about equine adoption. The Right Horse Initiative is a collective of industry professionals and equine welfare advocates working together to improve the lives of horses in transition through a dialogue of kindness and respect. The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame is working with The Right Horse Initiative to promote the bond between horses and humans. We are good people for good horses, and everyone who loves horses has ownership in this movement. To learn more about The Right Horse Initiative, visit therighthorse.org or click here to find out how you can help.