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
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.
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”.