Celebration South of the Border: The Cowboy Museum presents “Viva Mexico! »Exhibition | New

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Part of the mission of museums is to tell true stories about our past.

The saga of the American West is multicultural, however it has been portrayed in Hollywood cinema, popular fiction, or television.

Mexico and Spain are an important part of history which is currently being revisited in an exhibit at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. It is now until October 17th.

Entitled “Viva Mexico!”, The show focuses on Mexican independence and migration to the north. Michael Grauer is a historian of the American West at the museum and curator of the exhibit.

“Because we don’t have a Mexican history collection specifically, we wanted to celebrate the bicentenary of Mexico’s independence from Spain,” Grauer said. “We take a specific and unique angle at the Cowboy Museum.”

“Long live Mexico! directs his attention to the “hombres a caballo” – the men on horseback, or charros, who have shaped events over centuries of Mexican history.

“The charro was a national symbol of Mexico in the 1920s and 1930s,” Grauer said. “Politicians wanted to co-opt this image, just as some have done here in the United States. Talking about cowboy roots is vital to our mission here at the museum. ”

The exhibit includes dozens of artifacts, including saddles, boots, spurs, and sombreros as they evolve and develop.

“These form a backdrop for Mexican historical events,” Grauer said. “The first 100 years of the Mexican nation after 1821 were a tumultuous time with revolutions and counter-revolutions. Bringing into being a cohesive nation depended on men on horseback.

“Long live Mexico! will be in place on Mexico’s Independence Day in 2021 on September 16.

“The first vaquero, or cowboy, is a person of color, and probably an African slave,” Grauer said. “Spain had laws against natives or half-breeds on horseback or mule. The only workers available were enslaved Africans.

“They were limited by the type of clothing and equipment they could wear to distinguish themselves from the Spaniards. They had to wear leather clothes, which eventually evolved into a guerrilla fighter, which is an integral part of the revolution. “

Spain and Mexico have had a huge impact on the United States and Western history that has often been overlooked.

“People forget that the Spanish Empire extended to the southern border of what is now Oregon and all the way west of the Mississippi River,” Grauer said. “When Mexico gained independence, this territory becomes Mexico. Many of our western states were all part of Mexico.

“This exhibition is an opportunity to see that the story is multi-layered and nuanced. Nothing has had a greater impact on West American culture than Spain and Mexico. and Mexico in particular.

The huge cattle ranching industry throughout Mexico has contributed to the vaquero tradition.

“Every piece of cowboy gear was originally created in Mexico,” Grauer said. “The saddle, hat, boots, leggings and spurs were part of the equipment of the Mexican vaquero.”

Ranch songs have influenced popular American music, including musician Bob Wills’ western swing. “Long live Mexico! includes some examples of visual art.

“We have a handful of paintings and many photographs from our Dickinson Research Center and the Library of Congress,” Grauer said. “We have a superb watercolor by Donald Teague with what is probably a direct reference to Pancho Villa. There is also a sculpted head of a Tarahumara Indian by George Carlson.

Another painting is borrowed from the Mabee-Gerrer Museum in Shawnee. A private Norman collector lent his saddle, used during the Mexican Revolution, to the show.

“Some artifacts that we just don’t have, so there was the challenge of telling this story in an interesting and thought-provoking way,” Grauer said.

Information from Latinx academics in California, Texas and Missouri contributed to “Viva Mexico!”

“Our museum development officials have contacted the local Hispanic community,” Grauer said. “Our marketing and advertising team has made sure they are included in everything we do. During one of our receptions, we will have a Baile Folklorico band coming to perform. It is absolutely vital and essential. In 2019 we had an exhibition called ‘Caballeros y Vaqueros’, which was a way to open that door, and we want to make sure that door stays open.

” Everybody is welcome here. We are the National Cowboy Museum, after all, and that means the whole nation, not just a part of it.


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