National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

Fentress won a national design competition for this commission with a solution that successfully satisfies critical issues.

Fentress’ expansion, which nearly quadrupled the Museum, satisfied several key objectives:

  • established a new and exciting image for the museum;
  • created a functional, usable building plan;
  • provided a clear sense of circulation within the best possible environment for exhibitions and installations; and
  • developed a flexible phasing sequences that could be adjusted according to funding availability.

At the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, the physical and emotional boundaries that define art and the architecture are blurred and merged by intent. To enhance each and enrich both, art and architecture perform as one, in an experience that is both powerful and magical.

The new entry to the museum is anchored by a sweeping curved canopy, which gathers people in a welcoming gesture. This architectural element reinforces a sense of entry, which had been lost in the original plan, and aligns the visitor with two of the strengths of the existing complex: the reflecting pool and sculpture garden beyond.

New function spaces in the East Wing include the 1,200-seat Sam Nobel Special Events Center, the largest such space in Oklahoma City. The West Wing is constructed on top of an existing structure and houses new gallery spaces.