The National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature will be buzzing with activity during the Children’s Art & Literacy Festival June 6-8, but there are a variety of other museums to explore in Abilene and the surrounding area.
Nearly any kind of museum imaginable is within a short driving distance from downtown Abilene. All kinds of history museums are available, including local history in many small towns around Abilene, frontier history at Frontier Texas and the Taylor County History Center in Abilene and Fort Chadbourne in Bronte, World War II history at the 12th Armored Division Memorial Museum in Abilene, and WWII women pilots history at the National WASP Museum in Sweetwater.
If art museums interested you, the Abilene area has plenty of those, too, including The Grace Museum and the Center for Contemporary Arts in downtown Abilene. The Old Jail Art Museum in nearby Albany is a world-class museum housed partly in the restored 19th century jail.
Museums are among the many travel destinations for tourists coming to this part of Texas, said Kathy Keane, executive director of the Texas Midwest Community Network, an organization of communities and counties in the Abilene area.
“From the rich heritage of the western frontier to the eyewitness accounts of WWII women pilots, the Texas Midwest region offers visitors a unique opportunity to experience the lives of the people and events upon which Texas was built,” Keane said. “The hope for these diverse collections is to preserve our history while ensuring future generations understand and appreciate the achievements of those who came before them.”
The Texas Midwest Community Network publishes a travel guide, which includes information on museums, art galleries, sports venues, eating places, and much more in the Abilene area. The 2019 version can be found by clicking on the travel guide icon on the TMCN website, www.tmcn.org.
Below is a listing of many of the museums in Abilene and the region, including some from the Texas Midwest Community Network travel guide.
Center for Contemporary Arts
220 Cypress St. 79601
Curtis House Cultural Center
A museum and educational center focusing on the contributions of African-Americans to Abilene’s history
630 Washington St.
325-701-7804 or 325-518-4604
11 a.m.-4 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Admission by donation
The Discovery Center
Focuses on creationism and features an exhibit titled “Miracle of Israel”
810 Butternut 79602
625 N. First St. 79601
The Grace Museum
Art, history, and children’s museum housed in the restored Grace Hotel
102 Cypress St. 79601
102 Cedar St. 79601
Taylor County History Center / Buffalo Gap Historic Village
133 N. William St.
Buffalo Gap, TX 79508
12th Armored Division Memorial Museum
1289 N. Second St. 79601
The Old Jail Art Center
201 S. 2nd (Hwy 6 S.)
Tues-Sat 10-5, Sun 2-5, closed Mon and major holidays
free admission; nationally accredited art
museum housed in the county’s first jail building. They show DVD’s with history
of the Fort Griffin Fandangle and Shackelford County. Also houses the county’s
Flying A’s Hometown Classics Car Museum
100 S. Main Street
Call for hours; local collectors display a
rotating exhibit of classic cars, motorcycles, motorbikes, signage and other
Shackelford County Courthouse
225 S Main Street
Built in 1883 the courthouse is the oldest in
Texas in continuous use as a seat of government. The building was restored in
2002. Self-guided tours available during business hours, guided tours available
1300 Ave K
Sat-Sun 2-4, miniature reproduction of 1908
Town Square, doll collection, equipment and furnishings of turn-of-the-century trade
Callahan County Pioneer Museum
Basement of County Courthouse
T&P Depot Visitor Center & Transportation Museum
100 Market St.
Exhibits highlight transportation in Callahan
Country from the Western Cattle Trail to the T&P Railroad to the Bankhead
Swenson Memorial Museum and J.D. Sanderfer Oil Annex
116 West Walker,
Tues-Fri 10-5; Sat 10-2
1800’s artifacts, Oil Annex with extensive
historical collection from the Boom Town Days to present.
Fort Chadbourne Museum
12 miles north of Bronte on Hwy 277
Established in 1852, Fort Chadbourne offers 1850’s era military and Indian artifacts, antique firearms, theater, and Medal of Honor tribute.
Call 325-743- 2555 or 325-473-5311 for more information.
Free admission; donations accepted. www.fortchadbourne.org
Conrad Hilton Museum
309 Conrad Hilton Ave
Weekdays 9-12 & Sun 1-5., historical items from establishment of Cisco and Eastland County, pictorial presentation of Conrad Hilton’s life, video exhibit, Cisco “world’s largest swimming pool” pictorial
Lela Latch Lloyd Museum
116 W. 7th St.
Fri-Sat 1-5 p.m.
Historic city hall built in 1915, area
artifacts, restored vaudeville theater located upstairs
History of Clyde Gallery
125 Oak St.
Walk-through exhibits detailing what it was like to live, work, and worship in Clyde from the earliest settlers
Mon-Fri 8 a.m.-noon, or by appointment in the
Coleman Museum and Art Gallery at Heritage Hall
400 W. College St.
Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Robert E. Howard Museum
625 W. Hwy 36
254-725-4993, 254-725-6562 or 254-725-9480; open by appointment
Listed in the National Register of Historic
Places, furnishings, books and other belongings of Robert E. Howard, creator of
“Conan the Barbarian.”
Woody’s Class Cars & Baseball Museum
500 SW Fifth St.
A museum created by Patti and Danny Lee “Woody” Wood to honor cars and baseball. Woody died in 2016.
Call or email for hours: 254-725-4042 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Eastland County Museum
112 S. Seaman
Historic building was the Eastland National
Bank, fully restored to the original architectural style.
Eastland County Jail Museum
200 N. Lamar
Tours are conducted by the Sheriff’s
Austin McCloud Appeals Court Museum
101 S. Lamar
254-631-0311, tours by appointment
Eastland County’s first courthouse, believed to be the oldest building in Eastland, Native American history.
Rath’s Trail Headquarters Museum/Hamlin Archives
245 S. Central Avenue
Monday – Friday, 9 a.m. – noon; Thursday, 9 a.m. – noon, 1-3 p.m.
Houses a small exhibit displaying artifacts from
Rath City, local historical documents, photographs and Hamlin newspaper
microfilm for research.
Merkel Area Historical Museum
1501 N. 7th
Santa Anna Museum/Visitors Center
704 Wallis Ave.
Cowboy Country Museum
113 S. Wetherbee (east side of the square)
National WASP WWII Museum
210 Loop 170 (4 miles west of downtown)
Wednesday – Saturday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sun 1-5 p.m.
Showcases history of Women Airforce Service
Pilots through state-of-the-art educational experiences. Features eyewitness
accounts of the WASP courage, service and sacrifice, worldwide reunion and classic
airplane fly-in commemorates the WASP each Memorial Day weekend. www.waspmuseum.org
610 E. 3rd St.
Tuesday – Saturday, 1-5 p.m.
Julian Morgan Museum
South St. and Morgan, open by appointment
Z.I. Hale Museum
242 W. Dale St.
Local history, agricultural exhibit, restored
Rock Hotel, Rogers Hornsby Exhibit, restored Blue Gap Post Office, log cabin
built in 1878.
Rock Hotel Heritage Center
Next door to the Z.I. Hale Museum, built in 1909, houses several exhibits on second floor
including the Rogers Hornsby Exhibit of Baseball Hall-of-Famer Rogers Hornsby who was born in Winters in 1896.
Gus Pruser Agricultural Exhibit
Located across from the Z.I. Hale Museum and named for the farmer, builder and inventor who
constructed the building in 1927. Pruser built the first patented cotton picker in the U.S. in 1912.