California Museums

Autry Museum of the American West

Submitted by Connie Young


(Note: this exhibit is not currently on display)

Cowboy Culture and Presidential Politics Intersect at the Autry National Center in a unique exhibit spanning the presidential terms of Theodore Roosevelt to George W. Bush.

U.S. presidents have used the powerful symbol of a heroic American cowboy to define themselves and their administrations to the nation and the world. The presidency became intertwined with this emerging image at the turn of the twentieth century. The cowboy image used in presidential politics has had a polarizing effect too. The press, foreign governments and domestic political opponents have used cowboy imagery in criticizing presidential policy and leadership.

cowboys and presidents

Curator B. Byron Price brings this collection together, drawing on his vast experience as director of the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West at the U. of Oklahoma.

The exhibit includes countless historically important images and artifacts, such as Benjamin Harrison's longhorn chair, Theodore Roosevelt's personal saddle and photo album of his ranch, Lyndon B. Johnson's "campaign aid's outfits", Calvin Coolidge's electric horse and cowboy outfit, the Saddle of Independence given to George W. Bush in memory of the 9-11 attacks as well as photos showing presidents as cowboys or in the company of cowboys.

Motion pictures, television, political cartoons, newsreels, radio and music enhance the exhibition revealing the media's impact on the cowboy imagery in both domestic and international politics.

A series of "CONVERSATIONS" add to the understanding and enjoyment of the presidential cowboy experience. Five forums include "Riding with Reagan" - John Barletta; Political cartoonist Lalo Alcaraz; Black Hat, White Hat, The Band and The Enduring Image with Curator Byron Price; Will Rogers, Now! Starring Lance Brown; Steve Ford, From the White House to the Rodeo. Consult the Autry Center's website for dates and times at

Hours: Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Special summer hours are 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. June 1 through August 31.

Admission is free on the second Tuesday of every month and free for veterans year round. (prices and hours are subject to change, check for updates before going)

Location: 4700 Western Heritage Way, Los Angeles, California. Phone: (323) 667-2000.

Subscribe to our newsletter!

More Info