Fort Worth, Texas, has been described as the city "where the West begins," and Western icons certainly can be found at every turn...not least among them, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame. The graceful building features a Richard Haas trompe l'oeil mural of five cowgirls sitting tall in their saddles, the essence of how the cowgirls in this museum lived their lives: at full gallop.
As you enter the museum, you are drawn to its focal point, a 45-foot domed rotunda. Overhead, encircling the wall, are 12 murals of cowgirls roping, riding and shooting, which spring to life as you move about the space. The murals consist of "Lifetiles," designed by optical artist Rufus Seder, the only artist to utilize this medium. Lifetiles are "movies for the wall," says Seder. As you walk around the rotunda, the murals change rapidly, frame by frame, creating the sensation of movement.
Hall of Fame inductees represent a vast array of "cowgirls": Sacajawea; Henrietta King of the famed King Ranch; "Little House" author Laura Ingalls Wilder and so many more. For each, you'll find a medallion, and you'll be able to look up each cowgirl's biography on large touch screens. Of course, the National Cowgirl Museum and Hall of Fame has a constantly changing array of temporary exhibits, classes, book readings and special events that will keep you coming back time after time.
The museum also holds thousands of artifacts that celebrate cowgirl life in all its aspects: a first edition of Death Comes To the Archbishop by Willa Cather, a polished black vessel by Pueblo Indian potter Maria Martinez, costumes worn by Dale Evans and Roy Rogers. While you can't take these artifacts home, you can stop by the museum's fabulous gift shop and pick up a T-shirt, a piece of Western jewelry or a boxed, cowgirl-inspired pecan pie as a reminder of what you learned about the American cowgirl and the women who shaped the West and changed the world.