Our Kid Reviewer Sam visited the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Here's what he thought.
What made the experience stand out?
I just learned recently what the phrase larger-than-life means and I think that’s the idea behind the museum because everything there feels big. The sculpture in the entrance area feels huge, for example, and the headdresses were the biggest ones I’ve ever seen. I felt small beside the statutes and that kind of reminds me that I’m just one person in history, with all of these other people who were already here. I’ve been to museums with cowboys and information about the Wild West but this museum was different because it has a lot for children to see and do. I could tell that the people who made the museum’s displays were thinking about kids when they created its different areas because hands-on information was in more than one place. It was also not the same as other museums because I saw more artifacts about Native Americans instead of just cowboys. There’s even a separate building where kids can be free to walk and run.
What was the best part?
The best part was being able to experience the museum without feeling like part of it was boring because I’m too old or that other parts were not fun for my brothers because they’re too little. Everything was fun for all of us. There were activities in the new children’s area that we could do together. We got to touch some eagle feathers, a deer hide and glass beads. A museum guide told us about symbols in Native American patterns and they let us use stamps to make our own. I liked that there was something we could try because it isn’t always like that; my brother, Gabriel, is 2 and he could use the stamps too. No one told him he couldn’t so I didn’t feel rushed to finish mine so we could get to something he liked because he was already happy. I like places that let him participate with us. He wants to do cool things but not every place has something for a toddler, a 5-year-old and a fourth grader like me. We sat on saddles together, heard a storyteller and walked through an old-fashioned town.
What was the worst part?
My favorite area of the museum was a pretend town called Prosperity Junction. It’s like you’re walking down the street, with a house, stores, a church, a school, a doctor’s office and other places that look like they’re from when Oklahoma was being settled. The part that I didn’t like, though, was that my brother, Isaac, got really scared in there. It was kind of dimly lit with some dark areas in the barns and by the blacksmith shop. I wasn’t afraid but he’s 5 and I guess it was scary to him. I also really wanted to play out in the pond with fountains but it was like 50 degrees and my Mom said we couldn’t get wet.
Will other kids like this museum and why?
Other kids will definitely like the fact that adults will take the time to really talk to them at this museum. The guides in the new area can help you learn about what’s there even if you’re not old enough to read yet or you really don’t know what you’re looking at. You don’t have to sit still while you’re at the museum and only look with your eyes. You can also play musical instruments, do an art project or talk to Native Americans who want to share their culture. That’s really what it is, sharing about the culture that was here before we were all born. I learned that you can always ask the question “How did you learn about this?” and the person will begin at the beginning, which is good, because I need background info on the history part.
Would your siblings enjoy it?
They enjoyed it very much. The reason I think they liked it was because there were things to try, not just things to see. I would like to take my grandparents there because they’re not from Oklahoma so I don’t think they know about this part of history yet.
If you could do this again knowing what you know now, what would you do differently?
I would go with more comfortable shoes. I wore my shoes that I use at school and that was a mistake because we walked a lot. I would also think of other questions to ask. I wanted to visit the museum’s gift shop but by the time I got there, my family was ready to go. Next time, we should start with that.
What do you think you'll remember most about the museum?
I will remember having fun with my family. When I close my eyes, I still think about some of the art I saw. I think it all just shows we want the same things as humans, even from a really long time ago.
Get more tips for exploring Oklahoma City with your kids at our Weekend Warrior blog.