Great Small Museum: The Museum of Western Art, Kerrville, TX

Clan Red was in search of something to do indoors. That was open on Tuesday. So we ended up going 20 or so miles south to Kerrville, and visiting the Museum of Western Art. The museum began as part private collection and part museum for the Cowboy Artists association. Now, while not formally affiliated with the Cowboy Artists association, it features their works along with those of working ranch women artists. Most of the works are related to the American West*, or to American Indians.

The museum is a whisker bit south of the river, up on a hill. Enormous bronze western statues have pride of place outdoors. The museum was originally an open rectangle with a courtyard and fountain, but after some needed repairs arose, the trustees opted to enclose the courtyard and use it for display space. Currently, western saddles from the collection surround the mesquite-floored space. A large case full of all kinds of katsina dolls, a beautiful banker’s desk from the late 1800s, and other artifacts, with more saddles, line the walls, alternating with statues. All the work is by working cowboy or rancher artists, with special displays of Indian beadwork, rugs, and other applied arts.

The cartoonist Ace Reid’s saddle, donated by his wife Madge. Property of the Museum of Western Art.

I wish I could include photos of the artworks, but the museum docents were not certain about obtaining copyright permission from the various artists or their estates. However, the image below is from a gallery that shows the work of Eric Slocombe, the artist. The real statue “Owl Witch” is amazing, and very eerie.

“Owl Witch” (C) Eric Slocombe. Available through Pitzer’s Fine Arts.

The museum does have a wonderful “virtual tour” that allows you to see many of the fine art works remotely. You can access the virtual tour via the main web site, or here:

Red 2.0 is a little young for fine art. However, she spent at least half an hour, closer to 45 minutes, in the Oregon Trail display. It is built for kids, and has a miniature Conestoga wagon they can climb on, interactive activities to try, and tells via “diary entries” the experience of traveling the trail. At the “end of the trail” kids can try on pioneer clothes, hats, sunbonnets, and so on. Adults can also try on the sunbonnets (I might own some of the dresses already, in a larger size.) Red 2.0 is nine years old, and likes to play Oregon Trail on the computer. The display kept her happily fascinated for quite a while, so it is kid approved.

Another small display, across from Ace Reid’s saddle, has derringers. One was a real Derringer, and the rest are “derringers,” meaning small, concealable one or two-shot self-defense weapons.

Did I mention that some came in “odd” calibers?
For formal occasions . . .

I highly recommend the museum for fans of the art of the American West, applied “cowboy” art, and as a place for kids to look at the art and to get a little history lesson. The gift shop has prints of some paintings, jewelry, leather crafts, and books about Western art. Military and fire/police/EMS get an entry discount or are free.** They also have an archive of references and materials by and about Cowboy Artist Association members, as well as other research opportunities.

No, it’s not as large as the museum in Oklahoma City, or the Gilcrease in Tulsa, or in Cody. But it is kid-friendly, small enough to keep you from being overwhelmed, and provides a very good sample of what western art can be.

*Western art in this context is art depicting Western North America, including bison, Indians, cowboys, landscapes, wildlife, pioneers, and western related things. It’s a genre that is often looked down upon by sophisticated consumers of fine art.

**I have not seen so many museums that offer discounts to military and first-responders as I encountered in the Hill Country. The Red family chipped in a little to the kitty to help defray the deferred admissions.


6 thoughts on “Great Small Museum: The Museum of Western Art, Kerrville, TX

  1. “Sophisticated consumes of fine art” extol things that Red 2.0 would have finger-painted a couple years ago. There’s a great majesty in many of the so-called simple paintings, and great skill in applied and practical arts. Putting this on my list.

    The “Owl Witch” gives an interesting vibe, and could make an interesting story nexus. I wouldn’t be surprised if a similar artifact or statue appears in more Familar conditions.

    • “Owl Witch,” and “Two-Faced” (showing a false-face mask) grew more and more intriguing the longer you study them. The details are amazing, and I probably could have spent a lot more time looking at the two statues. The other bronzes were quite good, both the subject matter and the technical details.

      • “Owl WItch” – I had to finally close the page and walk away for a bit. It’s a Rodin-type need to examine the whole, the details, and both. It’s not his level, but it’s the same compelling need to examine and think every part of it through. Wonderful work.

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