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ABOUT THE MUSEUM

Sculpture on grounds of The Museum of Western Art, Kerrville, Texas

MISSION

The Museum of Western Art is dedicated to excellence in the collection, preservation, and promotion of Western Heritage and the education and cultural enrichment of our diverse audiences.
 

The Museum is located in Kerrville, TX, only a short drive northwest from San Antonio, and sits on prime real estate in the heart of the famed Texas Hill Country. This outstanding facility provides the opportunity for one and all to relive Western heritage through great Western Art.
 

The Museum opened on April 23rd, 1983, and was first known as the Cowboy Artists of America Museum. In the years since, more than 1.6 million visitors have walked the Museum galleries and have seen the West brought to life through the artwork on view. The hardworking cowboys, Native Americans, women of the West, settlers, mountain men and others are featured through various themed exhibits. Through other exhibitions, the history of famous ranches as well as other diverse aspects of our Western heritage are shared with our ever-widening audience. In addition, educators, students, writers, and the public make use of the museum’s 6000 volume Western art and history research library, the Griff Carnes Research Center.

The Museum is a work of art in its own right, with its unique architectural design by renowned Texas architect O’Neil Ford. Featuring heavy timbers and rugged retaining walls of stacked limestone, the building’s exterior resembles a fortressed hacienda. Heroic and life-size bronzes dot the landscape of the outer grounds. Inside the 14,000 foot facility, 23 bovedas give visitors a glimpse of artisan work rarely seen today. Floors of end-cut mesquite wood and saltillo tile are polished to a warm glow, complementing the Western artwork on view in the galleries. In 2004, the Masel S. Quinn Pavilion was completed and made ready for event use and as an integral part of our art education program.
 

In preserving and promoting the heritage of the American West, the Museum is committed to exhibiting the very finest artwork including art created by today’s well-known Western artists. Temporary exhibits feature famous masters of the past, regional artists, artifacts from the era, and historical explorations of the region’s past. The Museum’s goal is to represent authentically the life of the West, in both its historic and contemporary context.
 

Finally, in all that it does, the Museum serves as a bridge between the past and the present, ensuring that the legacy of the American West will be preserved for the future. We invite our guests to be part of that mission. Experience the West as it was and as it is at the Museum of Western Art…Where the Legend Lives.

HISTORY

The American West with its pioneering spirit played a very significant role in the development of our country; that same spirit still lives on as exemplified by the founders of the Museum of Western Art.  For many years the average American’s exposure to Western Art in public museums was confined to the works of Remington, Russell, and a few old masters. By the late 1970’s a major revival of national interest in the art of the West was taking place, capturing its history, landscapes, and traditions. Unfortunately, the works of a growing group of contemporary cowboy artists were primarily confined to the walls of private collections. Those who were aware of the situation sensed that something was amiss. Former Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater, a collector himself – analyzed the situation and perceived the need for a public venue for this growing genre. Those thoughts were finally turned into action by a couple of Kerrville and South Texas leaders who had a mutual interest in Western art. A conversation between L.D. Brinkman, a local cattle breeder and a manufacturer, and Robert R. Shelton – an heir to the legendary King Ranch – provided the spark the project needed. Both lamented the fact that as collectors themselves, they had very limited access to the extensive body of contemporary Western Art tucked away in private collections. Soon they corralled a group of kindred spirits that shared a goal of building and establishing the first museum to honor the work of living American Western Art painters and sculptors.
 

These founders pledged the large amount of private funds so necessary to launch their project. Oilman William F. Roden and his wife, Carolyn, of Midland, Texas, donated a prime ten acre piece of land adjacent to the Riverhill Country Club in Kerrville, Texas. This would place the museum in the center of an area rich in Western history; a famous cattle trail had once traversed the land on its way to Dodge City.
 

By 1981, enough money had been raised to commission the construction of the Museum. It would become the last public facility designed by renowned Texas architect O’Neil Ford. Ground was broken on April 27th, 1981, and by autumn the 14,366 foot edifice was completed. The public opening took place on April 23rd, 1983.
 

In 2004, the Masel S. Quinn Pavilion was completed for use in museum events, rentals, and art education programs. The following year, the Journey West Children’s Gallery was completed, highlighting the adventurous history of the American West for young visitors. In addition, area educators, students, writers, as well as the public make frequent use of the Griff Carnes Research Center. Finally, in 2017, the L.D. “Brink” Brinkman Central Courtyard Gallery was enclosed to provide additional exhibition space for the Museum’s extraordinary collection of bronze sculptures.

sculpture in museum

our founding sponsors

L.D. “Brink” Brinkman
Brenda & John H. Duncan
John J. Geraghty Family
Joanie & Bobby Holt
J.W. Kieckhefer FDN
Charline & Red McCombs
Cissy & Bob Parker
Vicki J. & Rodney M. Robinson
Fronie & Robert Shelton
Carolyn & Max Williams

William B. Blakemore II
John Eulich
Walter Hailey
J. Stuart Hunt
Mrs. Thelma Kieckhefer
Atherton & Murphy
Paul Hinch & Mack Pogue
William F. & Carolyn Roden
Texas Art Gallery
Kathy & Philip Worley

Sam, Paula, Preston & Brooke Douglass
Margaret & Bob Folsom
Don Hedgpeth
Sherman M. Hunt
Jack Lively
Jo & George A. Musselman
David J. Ragan
Earl C. Sams FDN., Inc.
Nancy & George Underwood
Julie & Bill Wrigley

OUR PARTNERS

City of Kerville logo
Altstad Brewery logo
Kerrville Convention Vistors logo
Fore Properties logo

THE MUSEUM IS A MEMBER OF THE FOLLOWING ORGANIZATIONS

Kerrville-Area-Chamber-of-Commerce_Logo
TAM logo
American Alliance_of_Museums
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