Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame

Free Admission on Smithsonian Magazine's 6th Annual Museum Day

9/23/2010 3:23:03 a.m. - Hobbs, NM. On Saturday, September 25, 2010, the Western Heritage Museum Complex and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame will participate in the sixth annual Museum Day, presented by Toyota on behalf of the redesigned 2011 Avalon.  The Western Heritage Museum Complex and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame will join participating museums and cultural institutions nationwide to open their doors free of charge to all visitors who download the Museum Day Ticket from Smithsonian.com.  A journey to celebrate our world’s dynamic heritage and cultural life, participating Museum Day venues emulate the free admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C.-based facilities.

Museum Day 2010 is poised to be the largest to date, outdoing last year’s record-breaking event.  Over 300,000 museum-goers and 1,300 venues in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico participated in Museum Day 2009.  Last year, two million visitors logged on to www.smithsonian.com/museumday to learn more about the program.

According to the director of the Western Heritage Museum Complex and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, Calvin Smith:  “Museum Day is an opportunity to celebrate everyone’s multifaceted heritages…whether it be from recognition of who you are both generationally and culturally to learning about our environment as members of a very complex web of life which we, as humans, are only a very small percentage of the organisms occupying the planet but play the major role for the future for all.  We, as a society that preserves its past, are unique, and museums, the collectors and interpreters of our natural and cultural library with specimens, artifacts and archives are charged with the responsibility of saving those items that are relevant for this and future generations in perpetuatity.  Join us by investing a little time in a museum near you that can lead to life-long learning experience for you and your children.”

Located on the campus of New Mexico Junior College, The Western Heritage Museum Complex and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame have many fun and educational exhibits so that you can actively learn more about our local history.  Come see 12,000 years of human history and listen to an animatronics cowboy speak.  At the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame you can learn about our local rodeo and ranching leaders with displays on each of the inductees since 1978.  The traveling exhibit featured during this time is Russell G. Hill’s “Cowboy Art & Ranch Photography.”  He is known as the Copter Cowboy with the Red Grasshopper and has documented his experiences through photography with an critical eye.  Come on down to discover some new things and even rediscover some old ones.  Our hours of operation during Museum Day are 10am-5pm.  Please call (575)392-6730 if you have any questions.

This year, Toyota will enhance the Museum Day experience both in Smithsonian magazine and online, with elements like the “Featured Five,” a listing that encourages visitors to learn about and visit participating museums and venues.  Additionally, for each visitor who inquires about the new Toyota Avalon online, Toyota will donate $1 – up to $10,000 total – to museum programming nationwide.

The Museum Day Ticket is available to download at www.smithsonian.com/museumday.  Visitors who present the official pass will gain free admission for two people to participating museums and cultural venues.  One ticket is permitted per household, per email address.  Listings and links to participating museums’ and sponsors’ sites can be found at www.smithsonian.com/museumday.

About Smithsonian Media

Smithsonian Media Comprises Smithsonian magazine, Air & Space, goSmithsonian, Smithsonian Media Digital Network and the Smithsonian Channel.  Smithsonian Media’s flagship publication, Smithsonian magazine, is one of the nation’s largest magazines with a circulation of more than 2 million and nearly 7 million readers.  Smithsonian Media is a division of Smithsonian Enterprises, the revenue-generating business unit of the Smithsonian Institution.  The Smithsonian Institution is the world’s largest museum and research complex consisting of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park and nine research facilities.  Approximately 30 million people from around the world visited the Smithsonian in 2009.

About Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc.

Toyota Motor Sales (TMS), U.S.A., Inc. is the marketing, sales, distribution and customer service arm of Toyota, Lexus and Scion.  Established in 1957, TMS markets products and services through a network of more than 1,400 Toyota, Lexus and Scion dealers.  Toyota directly employs more than 34,000 people in the U.S. and sold more than 1.77 million vehicles in 2009.

For more information about Toyota, visit www.toyota.com, www.lexus.com, www.scion.com or www.toyotanewsroom.com.

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About Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame

A prehistoric sea. Rich grasslands. Millions of buffalo. Ancient Indian tribes. The Great American Desert. Ranchers and homesteaders. World champion cowboys. The discovery of oil!

From the ancient, prehistoric sea that once covered the Permian Basin to the rugged individuals who tamed the Llano Estacado, or “staked plains,” the unique and colorful spirit of the timeless land of southern New Mexico can be explored fully at the Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame in Hobbs.

The museum's exhibits strikingly depict the vast region's fascinating background. As the largest non-mountainous land formation in North America, the Llano Estacado covers an area larger than the combined states of Maryland, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island. Throughout the centuries, this expansive area was comprised of rich grasslands that supported life for millions of buffalo, as well as a number of Native American peoples.

Long known as “The Great American Desert, ” the Llano Estacado was avoided by Europeans for centuries. It wasn't until the 1880s that bison hunters discovered the La Pista de Vida Agua, or Trail of Living Waters, which ran across northern Lea County. From that point on, the area underwent extensive exploration by the legendary Buffalo Soldiers and others.

Such efforts of early explorers convinced some that there was enough water to sustain livestock—if one was lucky enough to gain control of the few springs and lakes in the region. However, with the advent of the windmill, which pumped life-giving water from far below the surface, life on the Llano Estacado was changed forever. Now, enterprising homesteaders, cowboys, and ranchers were able to move onto the seemingly inhospitable rangelands to begin staking a future for themselves and their families.

As these hearty pioneers slowly began to tame the region, one last secret was discovered deep within the bosom of the Llano Estacado: oil! And with this discovery, the face of the Llano Estacado was to be transformed yet again. . .

Come discover for yourself the compelling history, the rugged men and women, and the rich traditions beautifully showcased in the Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame in Hobbs!

Background: At approximately 29,000 square feet, the Western Heritage Museum & Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame was completed late fall 2005 and opened January 14, 2006. In addition to offering world-class exhibits throughout the year that exemplify the diversity, beauty, and rich cultural traditions that have shaped the American Southwest, the Museum also serves as home to the renowned Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame, which boasts more world champion cowboys than any other region in the world!

The Museum is located on the Lovington Highway (State Highway 18) between New Mexico Junior College and Lea Regional Hospital (and just past Zia Park Racetrack & Casino!). Come check out all the exciting new happenings around Hobbs!

Regular hours of operation: 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Tuesday – Saturday.

Adults - $3
Seniors (65+) - $2
Youth (6-18) - $2
Children 5 and under - Free

School groups from Lea County will be admitted free of charge.
School groups from outside the County will pay $1 admission fee.

Discounts will be offered to military, American Automotive Association (AAA), and groups of 10 or more.


For additional information contact:

Darrell Beauchamp – Exec. Dir. Western Heritage Museum and Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame
New Mexico Junior College
1 Thunderbird Circle
Hobbs, NM 88240