The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum is a museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. It houses more than 28,000 Western and American Indian art works and artifacts. The facility is also home to the most extensive collection of American rodeo, photographs, barbed wire, saddlery, and early rodeo trophies in the world. The Museum collections focus on preserving and interpreting the heritage of the American West. Occasionally, the Museum becomes an art gallery, during an annual Prix de West Invitational Art Exhibition and Sale each year in June. The Prix de West Artists sell original works of art as a fund raiser for the Museum.
To maintain the memory of the founder, the museum grants the Chester A. Reynolds Memorial Award. This prize is granted to a person or institution contributing in the preservation of American West History and Heritage.
The historical galleries include the American Cowboy Gallery, a look at the life and traditions of a working cowboy and ranching history; the American Rodeo Gallery, fashioned after a 1950s rodeo arena, provides a look at America's native sport; the Joe Grandee Museum of the Frontier West Gallery, which exhibits some of the more than 4,500 artifacts once belonging to Western artist Joe Grandee; the Native American Gallery, focusing on the embellishments that Western tribes made to their everyday objects to reflect their beliefs and histories, and; the Weitzenhoffer Gallery of Fine American Firearms, which houses over a hundred examples of firearms, by Colt, Remington, Smith & Wesson, Sharps, Winchester, Marlin, and Parker Brothers, used to tame the West.
The Museum also houses Prosperity Junction, a authentic turn-of-the-century Western prairie town. Visitors can stroll the streets, peek in some of the store windows and actually walk into some of the fully furnished buildings. The town comes alive with historical figures once a year during the Museum's annual holiday open house, "A Night Before Christmas".
Every year the Museum gives "The Wrangler", an original bronze sculpture by artist John Free. It is awarded annually during the Western Heritage Awards to principal creators of the winning entries in specified categories of Western literature, music, film and television. Past winners have included Owen Wister, William S. Hart, Tom Mix, Hoot Gibson, Ken Maynard, Tim McCoy, Harry Carey, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Tex Ritter, Rex Allen, John Wayne, Randolph Scott, Joel McCrea, Richard Widmark, James Stewart, Buck Taylor, Howard R. Lamar, Ben Johnson and Tom Selleck.
The Rodeo Hall of Fame recipients are not honored during the Western Heritage Awards. They celebrate at another event and inductees receive medallions instead of "The Wrangler".