When we think of cowgirls, ivory halls don’t immediately come to mind. But in Fort Worth, Texas, a beautiful museum honors the legacy and continued work of cowgirls, whether in body or in spirit.
According to their mission statement, the Cowgirl Hall of Fame “celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West.” What other museum could unite Sandra Day O’Connor, Annie Oakley, Sacagawea, and Liz Cheney?
In the Texas Panhandle town of Hereford, a group of women founded the National Cowgirl Hall of Fame and Western Historical Society in 1975, to showcase the accomplishments and influence of women of the West to the larger public. Due to community interest, the museum searched for a new home in 1993. They found it in the cultural district of Fort Worth, near the Will Rogers Memorial Center, and opened the current building in 2003.
The museum honors of women of all stripes who reflect their values, from Kay Whittaker Young, a lifelong cowgirl who has been competing since the age of 12, to Mary Jane Colter, an architect of the late 1800s who designed many buildings now in the National Historic Register, to former First Lady Laura Bush, for her work in literacy.
In addition to the Hall of Fame, the museum hosts rotating exhibitions honoring female artists and heroines, such as an exhibit of Georgia O’Keeffe’s work forthcoming in 2010.