This exhibition will examine the development of what is known today as a “cowboy hat” using the Museum’s permanent collection. Beginning with wide-brimmed leather hats (vaqueteadas), the exhibition will explore the evolution of the cowboy hat from woven sombreros, to “John B.’s” or ‘Stetson’s” (whether they were Stetson-made or not), to today’s working cowboy giant “taco shells,” and flamboyantly-creased (and decorated) hats of rodeo riders and entertainers, and in popular culture today. Hats by famous actors such as John Wayne, Steve McQueen, and Tom Selleck, rodeo performers such as Shirley Jauregui and Toots Mansfield, Western musicians such as Johnny Lee Wills and Gene Autry, and others will comprise the exhibition. The visitor will come away with a better understanding of the cowboy hat’s history and iterations.
Someone in a Western-style hat is one of the most identifiable people in the world. This exhibition will showcase the Museum’s unique and extraordinary collection of cowboy hats so as to encourage visitors to connect this symbol with people they might only “know” through the written word or the projected image.