Explore the history of two of America’s most influential roads, their construction and the people who traveled them at National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum.


OKLAHOMA CITY – From cattle trails to summer road trips, the American West has always been in motion. The Cowboy will explore the diverse history of Western movement with Santa Fe Trail and Mother Roads, two concurrent exhibitions opening later this year.

The Santa Fe Trail, opening November 20, 2021, and running through May 8, 2022, explores the importance of the historic trails that connected the United States and Mexico. The Santa Fe Trail was both a cross-country road connecting what is now the Midwest United States and a two-way, international commercial highway used by both Mexican and American traders. The exhibition explores the impact the trail had on the military, economic and immigration affairs between United States and Mexico through images, maps, art objects and artifacts in the Museum’s collections.

“Mexico and the United States have a long history of shared trade and shared borders that continues to impact our culture, economies and so much more,” said Natalie Shirley, Museum President and CEO. “These exhibitions explore how movement, not only across the nation, but also across borders, created the American West we know today.” 

Mother Roads opening December 10, 2021, through May 8, 2022, will draw from the diverse archival materials in the Museum’s Dickinson Research Center. The exhibition explores how people got from A to B, with all the stops in between. From families packing their wagons before setting out on the Oregon Trail to tourists stopping to explore roadside America while driving Route 66, Mother Roads helps visitors see the West from the open road.

“The Cowboy is situated on historic Route 66, making it the perfect place to learn more about the stories of these amazing roads that connected our nation,” said Shirley.

For up-to-date information about the exhibitions or events related to the exhibitions, visit nationalcowboymuseum.org.

About the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum   The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City is America’s premier institution of Western history, art and culture. Founded in 1955, the Museum collects, preserves and exhibits an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts while sponsoring dynamic educational programs to stimulate interest in the enduring legacy of the American West. The Museum is located only six miles northeast of downtown Oklahoma City at 1700 Northeast 63rd Street. Annual family memberships are available beginning at just $40. For more information, visit nationalcowboymuseum.org. For high-resolution images related to this release, visit nationalcowboymuseum.org/media.