The Red River Valley Museum was founded in 1963 with a single exhibit that was housed at the Wilbarger Auditorium. In 1975 a vacant hospital building became the first home of the Museum. When William Bond donated his collection of 130 record-holding wild game trophy mounts from around the world in 1985, a 15,000 square foot modern, regional Museum was built adjacent to the Vernon College campus.
History of the Museum
The Red River Valley Museum has had three distinct lives. The first life began in 1963 when the museum housed the J. Henry and Ethel Ray Artifacts Collection in an unused cloakroom of the County auditorium. There were no docents, no Director, and few on-call volunteers. This continued until 1976, when an old hospital was donated; a Director was hired; and the collections expanded. In late 1985, a new building was finished and occupied. By late 1987, the Board of Directors resolved to move the museum into a more professional stance. At this time, there was no registration of objects, no Educational Outreach Program, and no Endowment Fund. From 1988 until the present, the museum has redesigned all exhibition halls, refined all exhibits, and instituted an outreach educational program and an Endowment Fund.
What You’ll See
The Red River Valley Museum is a museum of history, science and art. The rich and colorful history of Wilbarger County can be traced over 10,000 years ago as evidenced by the artifacts found in the J. Henry and Ethel Ray Collection. Newest exhibit is the Western Trail Drover – an interactive exhibit with nine vignettes of the Western Trail. The Bill Bond Large Game Animal Exhibit consists of 137 large game animals collected in a period that spanned 40 years. The Waggoner Ranch Room comes complete with a replica of Electra Waggoner Biggs art studio. The history of the Waggoner Ranch – the LARGEST ranch under one fence is found in this room. Last but not least is the traveling exhibit room. You never know what you might discover.
To preserve, protect and present the history and exhibits entrusted to the Red River Valley Museum in an interesting and entertaining manner.