Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum

By: Garry L. Nall

Type: General Entry

Published: 1976

Updated: April 24, 2019

The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum, the first state museum in Texas, began when faculty and students of West Texas State Teachers College at Canyon and area supporters organized in 1921 and incorporated in 1924 the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society. The purpose of the society is that of preserving source materials dealing with the pioneer life and development of West Texas and the collection of the relics of that life and of the natural history of the region. The museum represents a unique form of cooperation between the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, which owns and controls the collections, and the State of Texas, through West Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M University Board of Regents, that provides and maintains the building facilities. Through the generosity of area supporters and the State of Texas, the museum found a permanent location when the first structure was opened to the public on April 14, 1933. By 1986 five additions incorporated in excess of 200,000 square feet of exhibit, conservation, and storage space for 1,500,000 objects. In addition to major collections in anthropology, geology, paleontology, and natural history, the museum contains extensive materials on the cattle industry, the Plains Indians, firearms, transportation, the fine arts, the decorative arts, textiles, and historical artifacts depicting life in the region. Permanent exhibits include a replica of an early twentieth-century pioneer town, a display on oil and gas exploration and production, and galleries of European and American art with an emphasis upon Texas and southwestern artists, including C. F. (Frank) Reaugh and the studio of painter and muralist Harold D. Bugbee. Located on the grounds is the T Anchor Ranch house built in 1877. The library and archives include manuscripts, photographs, oral histories, and newspapers that reflect the economic, social, cultural, and political life in the region and extensive materials from the ranching, farming, and oil industries. Also on deposit are the papers of several prominent Texas governmental leaders. The Panhandle-Plains Historical Society had a membership of 850 in 1995 and has published the Panhandle-Plains Historical Review annually since 1928.

  • Archeology
  • Organizations
  • Institutions
  • Education
  • Museums Associated with Schools and Universities
  • 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.

Garry L. Nall, “Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum,” Handbook of Texas Online, accessed May 23, 2022,

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April 24, 2019