Who has the nation’s No. 1 Western museum? We do, we do!

4-72-Cowboys_Cheron-boyNow landing in subscribers’ mailboxes, the September 2014 issue of True West magazine names the New Mexico History Museum as the nation’s best Western museum, “in recognition of their superior exhibitions and ability to reach all generations through their creativity in interpreting the West while fulfilling their institution’s mission.”

The honor follows the announcement that the museum won a national Award of Merit for Leadership in History from the American Association of State and Local History for its 2013–14 exhibit, Cowboys Real and Imagined.

“New Mexico History Museum’s dedication to excellence, and their mission of preserving and interpreting our great Western history for all generations, is inspiring,” said True West Executive Editor Bob Boze Bell. “They keep the Old West alive.”

Other honorees include the Buffalo Soldiers Museum in Houston, Boot Hill Museum in Dodge City, Kan., and the Autry National Center of the American West in Los Angeles. In a media release announcing the honor, the magazine noted the History Museum’s “extraordinary, award-winning exhibitions, such as Cowboys Real and Imagined, but [also] cutting-edge, creative exhibits like Toys and Games: A New Mexico Childhood [and] the long-term exhibit Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now.” The magazine article lauds the cowboy exhibit for its state-of-the-art quality and robust programming. “Best of all, the exhibit made cowboys—and history—interesting to today’s youth.”

“This is a fantastic recognition of the team at the N.M. History Museum and their hard work in preserving and interpreting our state’s unique heritage,” said Interim Director Jon Hunner. “From cowboys to Spanish colonial devotional art and from pinhole photography to the Native American Artisans Program under the Palace Portal, this museum takes joy in presenting exhibits and programs about New Mexico and the true west.”

Upon its opening in May 2009, the museum was named “one to watch” by the magazine. In this, its fifth-anniversary year, the museum has two major exhibits featuring treasures from its collections: Painting the Divine: Images of Mary in the New World and Poetics of Light: Pinhole Photography.

Spur Award-winning writer Johnny D. Boggs selected the winners for True West’s annual award based on his extensive travels, research and firsthand experiences in visiting dozens of Western museums each year. True West magazine is in its 61st year of leading the way in presenting the true stories of Old West adventure, history, culture and preservation. For subscriptions and more information, visit http://www.twmag.com or call 888-687-1881.

Yippie-Yi-Oy-Vey: Nice Jewish Cowboys and Cowgirls

4-72-Cowboys_JewishCowboys_007890Members of pioneering Jewish families, Bernard Seligman, Zadoc Staab and Lehman Spiegelberg became freighters on the Santa Fe Trail. Married to a Jewish merchant in Deming, Ella Klauber Wormser took what may be some of the earliest photographs documenting the transition from cattle drives to rail transport in the early 1890s.

In the second half of the 19th century, Jewish families began playing prominent roles in cattle ranching and sheep raising – roles that continue into 21st-century New Mexico. At 2 pm on Sunday, Oct. 27, the New Mexico History Museum joins with the New Mexico Jewish Historical Society and Temple Beth Shalom to present “Nice Jewish Cowboys and Cowgirls” in the History Museum auditorium. The event is free with admission; Sundays are free to NM residents.

Award-winning news: Before the event begins, Bethany Braley, executive director of National Day of the Cowboy, will present the museum with a 2013 Cowboy Keepers Award in recognition of its work documenting the life of cowboys in its main exhibit, Telling New Mexico: Stories from Then and Now,and its latest exhibit, Cowboys Real and Imagined. (For more on the award, log onto http://nationaldayofthecowboy.com/wordpress/?p=1634.)

For “Nice Jewish Cowboys and Cowgirls,” Noel Pugach, professor emeritus of history at the University of New Mexico, will lead a panel discussion featuring members of the Gottlieb and Wertheim families, who will share their families’ stories and explain what “the cowboy way” means to them. Meredith Davidson, curator of 19th- and 20th-century Southwest collections, will present a selection of Wormser’s images also on view in Cowboys Real and Imagined.

The event is part of a layered programming schedule for the exhibit that explores the diverse cultural backgrounds and heritage of New Mexico’s cowboys and ranching traditions.

Through March 16, 2014, in the museum’s Herzstein Gallery, Cowboys Real and Imagined explores New Mexico’s cowboy legacy from its origin in the Spanish vaquero tradition through itinerant hired hands, outlaws, rodeo stars, cowboy singers, Tom Mix movies and more. Guest curated by B. Byron Price, director of the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West at the University of Oklahoma, the exhibit grounds cowboy history in New Mexico through rare photographs, cowboy gear, movies and original works of art. It includes a bounty of artifacts including boots and spurs, ropes, movie posters, and the chuck wagon once used by cowboys on New Mexico’s legendary Bell Ranch.

Photo: Freighters on the Santa Fe Trail, Bernard Seligman, Zadoc Staab, Lehman Spiegelberg and Kiowa Indian scouts. Palace of the Governors Photo Archives 007890.