Permian Basin Petroleum Museum

Midland, TX is located in the Permian Basin which is a major oil and gas producing region. The Permian Basin is a sedimentary basin occupying western Texas and southeastern New Mexico. If you are wanting to learn more about this area, including Midland, and the number one industry in the area, take a trip to the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum. Even if that doesn’t spark your interest, you are sure to find the museum to be a pleasant experience.

The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum was founded in 1975 and showcases exhibits related to the oil and gas industry. These exhibits include the geology relative to the region during the Permian period, the technology that encompasses the oil and gas industry, Jim Hall racing cars, and Tom Lovell paintings. It offers interactive experiences for visitors and shows over 230 million years worth of history in the Permian Basin.

The museum is highly educational on the various oil field camps and boom towns that popped up in the area when it became a hub for oil and gas exploration. It also showcases West Texas ranching heritage. Materials you can find at the museum include J.D. Bonner Collection that features rigs in West Texas from the 1920s, Lionel Buckley Collection which depicts seismographic activities in West Texas in the 1920s as well as photos of the Shell Oil Company, Frank Forsythe Collection that depicts oil field activities in West Texas in the 1930s, Betty Orbeck Collection which showcases the cattle industry and trade in West Texas, Hills Collection containing images including Texas counties in 1930s and 1940s, Jack Nolan Collection portraying West Texas life and commerce, Rodgers Collection that is centered on the Air Force Base in Ector County, and the Classen Collection that shows Mitchell County, TX in the 1920s.

The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum is home to intriguing collections that feature interactive exhibits that will “blow” your socks off, one in particular being dedicated to the oil well blowout. Take a look at the museum’s “Oil Patch” which are outdoor exhibits that hold mechanical materials such as oil rigs powered by both electricity and gas, a 119 foot steel production derrick used in the 1930s, as well as a wide assortment of tools used in the oil field such as drill bits and hard hats.

Make sure to stop by the museum’s Chaparral gallery that includes cars from the Midland 1960s racing team designed by local automobile designer James Hall. The sport was revolutionized by his car designs. Be sure to also check out the museum’s collection of paintings by the Italian native Frank Gervasi, a man who served in World War I which granted him citizenship in the United States. He also lost his right arm in battle and taught himself how to paint with his left hand.

To provide a more enveloping experience, the museum has undergone an $18 million renovation using new technology for more interactive exhibits. In addition to a new area for children to explore, the museum has added new exhibits including Formation and Discovery, Soar into the Future, the Mythcracker Theater, and more.
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