Facility to open in June

Robert Smith
Dreama Tyng, who will be manager of the Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum, stands next to a photo of champion cowboy Jim Snively with a new car he won. Visit the museum to find out how he did it. Robert Smith/Journal Capital

A brand-new, bright and shining reminder of Osage County’s deep cowboy and western roots will be on display June 11-12, as Pawhuska’s Ben Johnson Cowboy Museum will open for visitors.

The museum will be at the corner of 6th Street and Leahy Avenue, in the building that has been occupied by Big County Pawn. The pawn shop is anticipated to be moving soon to the building where Moore’s Hardware has been located, in the 400 block of East Main Street.

Pawhuska businessman Cody Garnett has been developing the museum for the past several months, working late into the evenings on the legion of details that must be tended to in order to offer guests a wide-ranging overview of the importance of the cowboy way of life to Osage County.

“It’s all about the cowboy way of life and the Osage County western heritage,” Garnett said. A ceremonial opening event is planned for 6 p.m. Tuesday, June 11, and the museum will be open to the public on June 12. Regular hours for the museum after it opens will be 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday.

Garnett said he’s extremely busy this week, doing trial runs at the nearly finished museum with tour bus loads of visitors.

When you walk in the door, among the first things you’ll see will be numerous western sculptures. The museum will feature the work of local artist John Free and his late father, John D. Free Sr., who died at age 84 in 2014.

Visitors will also be able to spend time in the magnificent Rodeo Room that will feature displays regarding some 20 Osage County world champion cowboys and cowgirls, who excelled in a variety of equine disciplines. Additionally, there will be displays about the ranching life in Osage County, there’ll be an interactive that will allow the youngsters to try their hand at roping, and much more.

Asked which Ben Johnson he means to honor — Ben Johnson Sr. and Ben “Son” Johnson were both championship cowboys — Garnett said both of them. Plus there’ll be memorabilia concerning Ben “Son” Johnson’s motion picture career.

The opening of the museum will help to get Cattlemen’s Week kicked off this year in Pawhuska and will provide visitors with access to an additional level of detail when it comes to thinking and talking about Osage County’s western heritage.