Pictured: MacLennan meeting with the staff of the Wickenburg schools.


Founded as a private non-profit institution by Morton Bodfish, Roy Coxwell, H. K. “Mac” MacLennan, Katherine McCrady, William Weeks.


Name legally changed to Maricopa County Historical Society dba Desert Caballeros Western Museum; subsequent re-accreditation was obtained in 2008 and 2023.

Pictured: Brayton’s Commercial Company established in 1906.

May 8, 1969

Officially opens to the public, housed in the former Brayton’s Commercial Company building.


Dec 21, 1972

Fire consumes the entire building.

January 1974

Las Señoras de Socorro auxiliary chartered as a non-profit with the intent to raise money for the rebuilding effort and to provide general operating funds and volunteer services.

Pictured: Museum dedication ceremony.

December 21, 1975

The Museum reopens on Frontier Street.

September 1985

Eleanor Blossom Memorial Library added, along with new offices, increased work space for volunteers, and renovation of the gift shop.

April 1987

6,000 square feet added, including a new Native American Room, Mineral Room, expanded Art Gallery, classrooms and a new temperature-controlled storage area for the Museum’s art collection.

November 26, 1988

Museum park on the corner of Tegner and Wickenburg Way created to honor Museum Volunteers, featuring a nine-foot bronze sculpture, “Thanks for the Rain”, by artist Joe Beeler.


Full accreditation attained from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM); subsequent accreditation in March 2008.

Fall 2004

160-acre Boyd Ranch acquired, with funding from Jane and Alex Boyd.


Inaugural Cowgirl Up.

March 2008

Charles T. Klein Pavilion opens, with major funding from the Frueauff Foundation and The Wellik Foundation.

December 2011

Cultural Crossroads Learning Center opens, with major funding from Lynne and John Boyer and Harriet and Edson Spencer.

January 2013

Began acquisition of the adjacent Shride property block for future expansion. Acquisition was completed in 2020.

November 2013

“Wickenburg’s West” exhibition opens in Quayle Family Gallery, with funding from the “Live It, Love It, Make It Last” capital campaign.

June 2023

Site work begins on new art museum and pavilion project.

November 2023

AAM Reacreditation

Photo: John and Dita Daub by Craig Cutler.

June 2024

Museum Chief Curator Dr. Tricia Loscher named the Dita and John Daub Curator of Western Women’s Art with the task of collecting historical art created by Western women artists. Dita and John Daub are the patrons behind this ground-breaking appointment.

Board Chairs

  • H.K. “Mac” MacLennan, founding chairman
  • Roy Coxwell, chairman for 25 years
  • Charles Klein, 1989-1990
  • Royce Coxwell Kardinal, 1990-1992
  • Elladean Hays Bittner, 1992-1994
  • Ron Badowski, 1994-1995
  • Eileen McGuire, 1995-1996
  • Joan McDermott, 1996
  • Ron Badowski, 1997
  • Joe Mendelson, 1998
  • Craig Keller, 1999
  • Paula Brill, 2000-2002
  • Elmer Johnson, 2003-2005
  • James Ludke, 2005-2007
  • Jeri Conklin Robson, 2007-2009
  • Dallas “Rusty” Gant, Jr., 2009-2011
  • John Daub, 2011-2013
  • Peter Schweitzer, 2013-2019
  • Jason Rovey, 2019-2022
  • Sam Crissman, 2022-2024
  • James Colley 2024-present

Museum Directors

  • Orpha Baker, curator 1969 – 1972
  • Harry Needham, volunteer, curator, director, executive VP 1974 – 1984
  • Mac Harris, director June 1985 – February 1991
  • Chet Walker and Richard Doud, interim directors February – July 1991
  • Cheryl Taylor, director July 1, 1991 – January 1, 1997
  • Myrna Harrison, interim director January – May 1997
  • Michael Ettema, director May 1997 – fall 2002
  • Joel Hiller, interim director December 2002 – October 2003
  • Royce Kardinal, interim director October 2003 – December 2003; executive director December 2003 – October 2008
  • Mary Ann Igna, interim director November 2008 – May 2010
  • W. James Burns, executive director June 2010 – August 2014
  • Sandra Harris, interim director September 2014 – January 2015; executive director January 2015-October 2017
  • Mary Ann Igna, interim director October 2017 – February 2018
  • Daniel M. Finley, executive director February 2018 – present

Among the many generous individuals who have made the Museum possible, one deserves special mention: Aiken Fisher (1907-1996) who passionately committed to building the Museum’s Western art collection.

More to see

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