Since 1954, the award-winning Bosque Museum has been a “must see” destination for anyone, be it local or visitor, wishing to better experience the rich and diverse history of Clifton and Bosque County. The museum is an ever-evolving cultural history location housing artifacts and resources representing every stage of the county’s historic and prehistoric past.
The museum had its origins in 1924, when Norwegian pioneer Jacob Olson bequeathed his enormous collection of artifacts and memorabilia to the former Clifton Lutheran College; with the provision the collection never leave Bosque County. When the college closed in 1954, the collection became the foundation of today’s Bosque Museum. The 1866 Jacob Olson log cabin was reconstructed on museum grounds in 1985 and received a Texas Historical Marker. It remains a popular attraction on tours for old and young alike.
Befitting Clifton’s notoriety as “The Norwegian Capital of Texas,” the museum has a strong emphasis on this unique heritage of the area and holds the largest collection of Norwegian artifacts in the South and southwest. This collection includes a disc plow invented by Ole Ringness, which revolutionized agriculture, and an extensive Norwegian language book collection. It also includes a chair made by Cleng Peerson, the “Father of Norwegian Immigration to America.” Peerson spent his final years in Bosque County, and is buried near Clifton. King Olav V of Norway visited the museum in 1982 when ceremonies were held to observe the 200th anniversary of Cleng Peerson’s birth.
The museum has received numerous awards from the Texas Historical Commission for special theme exhibits chronicling the diverse history of Bosque County. These permanent and temporary exhibits have highlighted such diverse subjects as early education, fashion, the Civil War, and the large German settlement in the area.
The museum also places a strong emphasis on children and their enjoyment in learning more about local history. This includes a hands-on children’s corner and tours throughout the year as well as special workshops and seasonal programs for students and children. Other highlights of the museum include a large collection of Indian artifacts dating back 10,000 years, vast photography archives representing early life in Bosque County, a textile collection, early firearms, a collection of items detailing pioneer life in Bosque County, an ongoing lecture series for adults and children, and early education and medical collections. The museum also features a gift shop complete with souvenirs, books, holiday ornaments, and unique items representing the Norwegian and German influence of the area.
In recent years, one of the museum’s most popular attractions has been the permanent “Horn Shelter Exhibit.” The exhibit documents visually the earliest known inhabitants of Bosque County, dating back 11,200 years. The exhibit faithfully features an reproduction of the shelter, located near the Brazos River forming the northern border of the county, which included the remains of an adult male and child, along with burial goods from the Paleo-American age (before the time of native Americans). The Horn Shelter site has been the subject of a documentary by National Geographic and the exhibit was developed with assistance from the Smithsonian.
In 2010, the museum added an additional 6,000 feet of space with the dedication of the Jacob Olson Museum Annex. The Olson Annex houses archival storage, work space, and classrooms for the museum.
Bosque Museum is open to from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is $5 for adults, children under 10 free, members free. Group rates available. For more information on the Bosque Museum visit their website at www.bosquemuseum.org.