How the West was Worn

Blue jeans, automobiles, brightly-colored dishes and even dental bling all have one thing in common – they’ve all been influenced by western design. Discover how the history and craftsmanship of the West influenced goods and culture through the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s newest exhibition, Western Wares, that opened February 11, 2022. The museum is based in Oklahoma City, OK.
 
Western design is a term familiar to a global audience, drumming up images of pearl-snap shirts, rhinestones, and cowboy hats. Visitors will learn that western design has been crafted over time by different people and traditions. It is a continually evolving style that is both connected to the geography of the west, but also defined by each person who wears it. 


“Here at The Cowboy, we know that the history and legends of the West have influenced many aspects of American culture deeply,” said Natalie Shirley, Museum President and CEO. “This exhibition is a fun way to see the impact that cowboy and. western culture has had on the world of design.”
 
Western Wares will take museum visitors through the history behind the rise in popularity of the western aesthetic, from the 1890s, to its historic peak in the mid-twentieth century and then on to present day.


 Upon entering the exhibition space, museum visitors will first experience the early influences of design that stemmed from Indigenous, Hispanic and European cultures and were used on the range starting in the 1800s. The exhibition will then explore varied interpretations of western design by rodeo performers, musicians, vintage enthusiasts, and people looking to reclaim their cultural traditions. It will also feature a space that delves into the mechanical processes of making a look, including sewing, leather working, silversmithing and design. 
 
Much of the western fashion presented in the exhibition will come from the museum’s extensive collections. The exhibition will also feature many never-before seen photographs. Western Wares will be on exhibit through May 1, 2022.

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