Located in West Texas just off the New Mexico border, Midland is a fantastic destination for vacationers looking for something a little different from the tourist scene. Next time you’re planning a trip to the Southwest, consider adding Midland to your itinerary. Go a few miles off the beaten path to explore the stomping grounds of the most dedicated curators and historians. The amount of fun things to do downtown is increasing every year, and thanks to the efforts of these local museums, you can turn your travels into an educational adventure for the whole family.
American Airpower Heritage Museum
Featuring a hangar of vintage aircraft from a variety of historical conflicts, a rotating selection of exhibits honoring local and national heroes, and one of the largest collections of “nose art” (think of the designs and insignias that squadrons would paint onto their iron birds) in the country, this museum provides visitors with a unique opportunity to see combat aircraft in flight. Military history buffs are sure to enjoy the attention to detail that the museum staff puts towards recreating the past. Everyone can learn from the collection of classic engines, memorabilia, and video presentations. Make sure to schedule your trip during an air show, or check their website to learn about fun things to do like catching a performance or lecture during your visit.
Museum of the Southwest
Settled long before the arrival of European explorers, the American Southwest has fascinated historians, artists, and scientists for centuries. Whether you’re interested in the fieldwork of James Audubon (the permanent collection includes many of his lithographs), the relics of ancient civilizations, or contemporary artists’ interpretations of the landscape and culture of the four corners region, a visit to the Museum of the Southwest is one of the most fun things to do during your stay in Midland. With over 45,000 artifacts and 1,700 art objects in permanent holding, continually-updated exhibitions, and a regular schedule of concerts, planetarium shows, and community events, you’re sure to leave inspired.
The Petroleum Museum
Oil production has been a pivotal aspect of American history. Whether fueling space exploration, NASCAR races, or summer vacations, lifestyles depend on the many scientific advances made by petroleum scientists and entrepreneurs – often centered around the oil fields of West Texas. Most of us take for granted the work of the thousands of laborers who make our oil-enriched existence possible. For many Americans, it remains a bit of a mystery as to how crude oil is transformed into the lifeblood of our automotive empire. Take a few hours at the Petroleum Museum in Midland to check out a vast photo archive of the industry in Texas, inspect a fleet of historic, racing vehicles, and take a look at the on-site collection of oil rigs. You’ll leave with a greater understanding of how petroleum is produced, as well as with a newfound appreciation for the role of oil in our daily lives.