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 phasing sequence adjustable 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, they perform as one in an experience that is both powerful and magical.

A sweeping curved canopy which gathers people in a welcoming gesture anchors the new entry to the museum. This architectural element reinforces a sense of entry lost in the original plan, and aligns the visitor with two of the particularly strong features 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 on top of an existing structure and houses new gallery spaces.