The Museum of North Texas History has many fascinating exhibits that include military items, cowboy memorabilia, art, and more, but now they have a permanent children’s exhibit that is the talk of the town. It opened September 12th on Texoma Gives day, which is appropriate since last year’s Texoma Gives donations to the museum went to finish this children’s exhibit.
Texoma Gives is a local area giving day for North Texas and Oklahoma in which all the nonprofits get together and have fundraising campaigns. There is a lot of matching grants available, prizes, and it is a great day for nonprofits to get new donors and recurring donations. “Because our campaign last year was for the children’s exhibit, we had the grand opening of that exhibit this year on Texoma Gives day. We thought it was a great way to show the community what we were able to accomplish with their donations,” said Executive Director of the museum, Madeline Calcote. “We had a wonderful turnout for the children’s exhibit. It was great to get kids in that space and see them interacting with all the cool pieces that we have. We even had some kids coming back on Saturday because they had so much fun that they wanted to come back. So, it was really exciting to have so many kids finally playing with all that wonderful stuff that we had been working on for so long,” she added.
“Our mission at the Museum of North Texas History is to collect, preserve, and interpret the history of North Texas. So, we felt that adding a children’s exhibit that tells the history of North Texas would be a great way to fulfill our mission. We envisioned an interactive space where kids could go in and touch everything and learn about North Texas history that we cover in the museum,” Calcote said. There is a little about railroad history, a little about the great western trail history, as well as oil and gas.
“One of the interactive elements in the exhibit is the cool light up airplane wall. You get to press a button and it will light up the corresponding plane, and all the planes featured on it have been flown at Call Field, Sheppard Air Force Base, or at the local regional airport. There is the T38 jet and the Curtis Jenny, so it has some really fun things on it,” Madeline said, “The oil and gas element tells about what percentage of a barrel of crude oil is used for gasoline, and it has fun facts about oil. It explains that it is used in the production of things we use every day like your toothbrush or soap, and it has some fun nicknames for oil like Black Gold or Texas Tea. They learn a little bit about how oil is important to the world and how we use it.”
“We have some beautiful murals in the space as well. And they were painted by local artist, Marsha Wright Reeves. We commissioned three pieces for the exhibit. We have one that features a beautiful steam engine and the old depot that was torn down. We have one that features a beautiful sunset and an image of a pump jack, and we have a really fun one that features some cowboy themes and it has various Texas elements in it like cowboys and rattlesnakes and longhorns. It features some cowboys driving cattle down the trail. Part of that piece is a little bit of a scavenger hunt. It has Texas Elements and there is a lot of them hidden in the painting. We want the kids to take a closer look at the artwork and find them. The rattlesnake and the longhorn are just two of them, but I don’t want to give them all away,” she said with a smile.
They also have a big wooden train that kids can climb on and use their imagination to be a train conductor or passenger. To add to that experience, there is some great dress up clothes so they can dress up like a conductor. “It is really great to see kids interact on this awesome piece. We have dress up clothes for all the stories we are telling in that exhibit. We have cowboy stuff, airplane pilot, and oil and gas stuff too,” she added.
Madeline and her staff love to share their knowledge and passion about North Texas, and are located at 720 Indiana Avenue in downtown Wichita Falls. “We have a great location and are open Tuesday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.,” she said. Admission is free, but you must ring the doorbell when you arrive, so, that the staff can let you in.