Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum
From dinosaurs and ancient inhabitants to Native Americans and West Texas Pioneers, explore the fascinating exhibits at the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum. Located on the campus of West Texas A&M University, just a few miles from Amarillo as well as Palo Duro Canyon, the Panhandle-Plains Museum contains the largest historical collection in the state of Texas. The museum tells the story of the incredible historical, scientific and cultural contributions from the region, dating back thousands, even millions of years through its tremendous compendium of artifacts, fossils, objects, stories, displays, and exhibits.
This is a history museum with a history of its own: in 1920, a West Texas college professor, Hattie Anderson, was compelled to preserve the way of life, the stories of courage and hardship, the victories and defeats of the panhandle pioneers and their predecessors. She formed the Panhandle Plains Historical Society with the goal of collecting and protecting relics of the human and natural history of the area. People rallied around the importance of preserving their legacy and located, collected, donated items, money and building materials. Even when hit with the Great Depression of 1929, the hard-working and determined people of the Plains gave whatever they could. In 1933, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum opened its doors to the public. The collection continued to grow over time and, after several additions, the museum now inhabits over 200,00 square feet of exhibit and storage space on the West Texas A&M campus, preserving over 1,500,000 objects.
The permanent collections and displays you'll find throughout the museum are as diverse as the history itself. Exhibits cover a wide breadth of topics including art, military items and weaponry, fashion, transportation, paleontology and geography, the discovery and processing of oil, and the ways of daily life for the People of the Plains as well as members of the many Indian tribes that lived on the land. Some of the museum's most significant holdings include:
- An extensive art collection, consisting of more than 4,000 pieces of important and valuable artworks of the American Southwest. In addition to the works themselves, the museum also owns a 1,200-volume art reference library which is available to the public.
- A diverse and comprehensive history collection which includes a large display of items used in everyday life from the 1800s through the 20th century.
- An impressive paleontology collection from the Late Triassic period (225-200 million years ago), including large, skeletal fossils of several extinct creatures excavated from the surrounding areas.
- A life-sized Pioneer Town, featuring authentic living quarters, a schoolhouse, saloon, livery and other buildings that allow visitors to experience frontier life.
The permanent collection is enhanced by several exciting, transient exhibitions that are hosted at the museum throughout the year.
The founder of the Panhandle-Plains Historical Society, Hattie Anderson, once noted, “It is the sacred duty of ours to collect the record of life here and hand this on to the children of the future.” She would certainly be proud of how well that mission has been accomplished. The Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum is a north Texas treasure and the pride of those who live here today as it was their ancestors. When you want a world-class history museum experience, you're exploring things to do in Amarillo, or you're in town for an A&M Football game, add the Panhandle-Plains Museum to your list of must-see destinations.
Canyon, TX 79015