Layland Museum

By: Julie P. Baker

Type: General Entry

Published: January 27, 2009

Updated: May 5, 2016

The Layland Museum, a department of the city of Cleburne, occupies the historic 1905 Carnegie Library building and annex (see CARNEGIE LIBRARIES). The museum collection began in 1963 when the family of local businessman William J. Layland donated a portion of his personal collection to the city of Cleburne for a proposed museum. Several hundred objects including published materials, photographs, seashells, birds' eggs, Native American items, and weapons were displayed in the disused second-floor auditorium of the Carnegie Library building. The exhibits were open for a few hours weekly while the library operated downstairs. As a bicentennial project in 1976 members of the Johnson County Historical Commission labored vigorously to increase local interest in the museum. Within two years the public library moved to more spacious facilities, and the handsome classical structure in the heart of the downtown formally became the Layland Museum.

The decade of the 1980s was a period of development for the museum. Galleries, a modest research library, and staff offices filled the lower floor. Volunteer aides were the lifeblood in the early years—creating exhibits, presenting programs, and leading gallery tours. With grant assistance, the second-floor auditorium was restored into the home of the Greater Cleburne Carnegie Players, a community theater group. The 1990s were spent establishing standards, writing policy, and increasing public awareness for the museum and its programs. Cleburne formally made the museum a department of the city, providing additional support for maintenance and operations. Professional full-time staff was hired. Several major artifact transfers were received, increasing the breadth of the artifact collections, and additional property was acquired. Guided by the mission to study "regional home and family life from the prehistoric period through 1970," new exhibits and educational programs were created.

The new millennium ushered in a $4 million capital campaign to restore the old Carnegie building and rehabilitate the annex into a collections care-educational facility. Notable artifacts exhibited in the Layland include Gen. Patrick R. Cleburne's Colt pistol and saddle, Burton Marchbanks' homespun uniform, Native American pottery and beadwork, and a settler-era replica 'mudcat' chimney. With over 45,000 objects and 65,000 photographic images in the permanent collection as well as 3,000 volumes in the special collections library, the Layland Museum welcomes 10,000 visitors each year.

Layland Museum (, accessed June 17, 2008.


  • Museums, Libraries, and Archives
  • Museums
  • General History Museums

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.

Julie P. Baker, “Layland Museum,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed September 24, 2021,

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January 27, 2009
May 5, 2016