Where the Legend Lives

Mission & History

 Overview | Founders

The Founders

The American West with its pioneering spirit played a very significant role in the development of our country. That same spirit still lives on as exemplified by the founders of The Museum of Western Art.

For many years the average American’s exposure to Western Art in public museums was confined to the works of Remington, Russell, and a few old masters. By the late 1970’s a major revival of national interest in art of the West was taking place, capturing its history, landscapes, and traditions. Unfortunately the works of a growing group of contemporary cowboy artist were primarily confined to the walls of private collections. Those who were aware of this situation sensed that something was amiss. Arizona’s Senator Barry Goldwater, a collector himself, in analyzing the situation perceived the need for a public venue for this growing genre. Thoughts were finally turned into action by a couple of Kerrville and South Texas leaders who were already acquainted with each other and had a mutual interest in collecting art.


“The Legend Lives” by Bill Nebeker
“The Legend Lives”
by Bill Nebeker

A conversation between L.D. Brinkman, a cattle breeder and a manufacturer, with Robert R. Shelton, an heir to the legendary King Ranch, provided the spark. They both lamented the fact that as collectors themselves they had limited access to an extensive body of contemporary Western Art tucked away in private collections. Soon they corralled a group of kindred spirits. They shared a goal that envisioned building and establishing the first museum to honor the work of living American painters and sculptors.

These founders pledged the large amount of private funds so necessary to launch their project. Oilman William F. Roden from Midland, Texas and his wife Carolyn donated a prime ten acre piece of land adjacent to the Riverhill Country Club in Kerrville, Texas. This would place the museum in the center of an area rich in western history. A famous cattle trail had once traversed the land on its way to Dodge City.

Enough money had been raised by 1981 to commission the construction of the museum. It would become the last public facility designed by the famed Texas architect O’Neil Ford. Ground was broken on April 27, 1981, and by autumn the fourteen thousand three hundred sixty six square foot edifice was completed. The building itself was a work of art. The public opening took place on April 23, 1983.

As the museum’s thirtieth anniversary rapidly approaches, a debt of gratitude is due the founders and their pioneer spirit. It is through their efforts and generosity that “The Legend Lives”.

The Museum's Founding Sponsors

L.D. “Brink” Brinkman Jack Lively
Brenda and John H. Duncan Nancy and George Underwood
John Eulich Atherton and Murphy
Walter Hailey John J. Geraghty Family
Joanie and Bobby Holt Earl C. Sams FDN., Inc.
Sherman M. Hunt Kathy and Philip Worley
J. Stuart Hunt Carolyn and Max Williams
Charline and Red McCombs Margaret and Bob Folsom
William F. Roden Julie and Bill Wrigley
Fronie and Robert Shelton Paul Hinch and Mack Pogue
Don Hedgpeth Texas Art Gallery
Jo and George A. Musselman Mrs. Thelma Kieckhefer
Sam, Paula, Preston and Brooke Douglass  J. W. Kieckhefer FDN
William B. Blakemore II David J. Ragan
Vicki J. and Rodney M. Robinson Cissy and Bob Parker



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Affiliations:  Texas Association of Museums -  American Alliance of Museums


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