Black Cowboys : An American Story

May 5August 26, 2023

Did you know that one of four cowboys who went on the trail was Black?  Black Cowboys: An American Story explores the lives and work of the numerous Black men, women and children – enslaved and free – who labored on the ranches of Texas and participated on cattle drives before the Civil War through the turn of the twentieth century. 

This powerful exhibition features artifacts, photographs and documents depicting the work and skills of Black cowboys. Black Cowboys: An American Story offers insight into legendary cowboys, a clearer picture of the Black West and a more diverse portrait of the American West.

Be transported through time to meet a variety of real Black cowboys and appreciate their deep impact on American History. Discover how they tamed and trained horses, tended livestock and rode on the trail with thousands of cattle across America.

Black Cowboys: An American Story was developed by the Witte Museum, San Antonio (
The exhibition is presented by Bank of America and generously supported by the John L. Santikos Charitable Fund of the San Antonio Area Foundation, H-E-B and Ed Rachal Foundation. George McJunkin photo: © Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
Kyle Polzin, "The Wrangler"
Kyle Polzin, "The Wrangler"

Ranching Heritage of the Guadalupe River Valley

As the centerpiece of the Museum, The Ranching Heritage of the Guadalupe River Valley exhibit gives visitors a walk through time and legend. The story of cattle ranching in the Guadalupe River Valley, its roots in cattle ranching before and after the great cattle drives of the late 1800s, and the enduring folklore of the Texas cowboy is brought to life in this exhibit. Rich local history, including the infamous Sutton Taylor Feud, pitted cattle rustling outlaws against frontier justice and introduced lawmen such as the legendary Texas Rangers. Highly selective curation of objects for authenticity puts you that much closer to history.

Horsemen of the Americas: Tinker Collection

Dr. Edward Laroque Tinker’s collection of rare and horse-related artifacts from Mexico, Chile, Bolivia, Argentina, Peru and other Latin American countries is a priceless educational tool illustrating the expanse of cowboy and ranch life introduced to the New World by Spain in the 17th and 18th centuries. On permanent loan to the CTHM from the Harry Ransom Center (HRC) at The University of Texas at Austin, the Tinker Collection showcases the pride of craft shared by horsemen north and south of our borders in the golden age of working cattle on horseback. The exquisite workmanship of equestrian and ceremonial artifacts demonstrates an extraordinary level of artisanship.

Edward S. Curtis: A Portrait of Native American Life

A handsome series of photogravures of Native American subjects lines the hallway on CTHM’s second floor. In the early 20th century, Edward S. Curtis captured Native American subjects, predominantly portraits, but also landscapes, still life, scenes of everyday living, and more. At the height of his fame, Curtis was quoted in an article published in 1914 that stated,  “We want the documentary picture of the people and their homeland – a picture that will show the soul of the people.”

Spurs Showcase

CTHM is excited to announce a new exhibition of Texas spurs. The recently installed showcases are in our first floor lobby. Now a part of the Museum’s permanent collection, the exhibit features hand crafted spurs by Texas craftsmen Bianchi, Buermann, Crockett, Kelly Brothers, McChesney, Shipley and Alfred Smith, to name a few. Spur experts Bruce Bartlett and Kurt House, both from San Antonio, curated the collection.