The Cowgirl Museum may sound kind of random weird but it was pretty awesome. Major fail though… no photos allowed. So I just took some outdoor photos and snuck one photo of The Guns to prove that we were both there.
I’ve already talked about how Fort Worth is where the West begins, making it a great place for the Cowgirl Museum, but a museum devoted to cowgirls might seem a bit… limited. I mean, who is a cowgirl anyway? That was my thought headed into the museum, but once I left, I definitely knew their definition of a cowgirl.
Sure there was plenty of rodeo memorabilia, and photos from movies and tv shows featuring cowgirls (Annie Oakley, Jesse from Toy Story, some 90s movie entitled “Bad Girls” featuring Andie MacDowell and Drew Barrymore, and many others), and there was a lot of campiness, no doubt. But I was also struck by the fact that cowgirls represent an early push for women’s rights and equality. In the 1800s these women were some of the few that were able to own and care for a large amount of land and the animals on it. When rodeo entertainers and competitors began touring the country with rodeos, sharp shooters, and riding tricks; women would tour, making them the first professional female sports competitors.
The mission statement of the museum says, “The National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame honors and celebrates women, past and present, whose lives exemplify the courage, resilience, and independence that helped shape the American West, and fosters an appreciation of the ideals and spirit of self-reliance they inspire.”
So, really that could be any woman who act courageously, with resilience and independence. While they celebrate the western woman from the 1800s to present day, they also celebrate women who have those same ideals outside of the west, as well as women who find a way to celebrate the land and the west and the spirit of the cowgirl in their work. Their hall of fame includes ranchers, entertainers, artists, writers, and leaders. It includes Patsy Cline, Laura Ingalls Wilder (and many of her female relatives), Sandra Day O’Connor, Georgia O’Keeffe, Annie Oakley, Sacagawea, and Laura Bush.
As you can see, I was struck by the fact that the American cowgirl myth, though it could be be interpreted in a way that is campy and objectifies women, has at its heart a very strong female example, that I would have to argue was ahead of its time.
My one photo from the museum…