FUELING AMERICAN PROGRESS
Even if the history of oil extraction isn’t your thing you’ll be pleasantly surprised with a visit to the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum. The educational, interactive displays are engaging and dynamic, particularly the exhibition dedicated entirely to the oil well blowout, a visual treatment of the subject that provides some first-rate eye candy for explosion geeks. The exhibition’s video even has an appearance by the late oil well firefighter and celebrity Red Adair. For the mechanical enthusiasts try the museum’s “Oil Patch”, an outdoor collection of historic oil field equipment including steam, gas and electric powered drilling rigs, a one hundred and nineteen foot steel production derrick from the 1930s, and an assortment of oil field tools like drill bits and hard hats.
Pit crew fans may want to spend some time in the museum’s Chaparral Gallery where the cars from Midland’s 1960s racing team are on display. Automobile designer and Midland local James Ellis Hall revolutionized the sport with these cars.
You’ll want to come for the hardware but stay for the stunning paintings by artist Frank Gervasi on display in the Museum’s exhibition galleries. Italian-born Gervasi, who served in World War One earning him U.S. citizenship, lost his right arm in battle and relearned to paint with his left hand. Gervasi lived in New York City after the war but moved to Marfa in the 1960s. His depiction of the Santa Rita No. 1 oil well in mid-blow is a knockout of a masterpiece.
The museum has recently undergone an $18 million renovation, with exhibits re-designed with new technology to provide a more immersive experience. The Permian Sea diorama has been enhanced. New exhibits include the Mythcracker Theater, Formation and Discovery, Soar into the Future, and other exhibits that tell the story of the Permian Basin oil industry in new engaging and exciting ways. There is a new area for kids to explore and learn, called Energy City. See dozens of newly-installed oil drilling rigs and heavy machinery outdoors along the new walking trail. The Abell Family Gallery, Mineral Gallery, and Chaparral Gallery remain intact.
Permian Basin Petroleum Museum
Adults, $12; Seniors and ages 12-17, $8; Children 5 and under, free
Monday - Saturday 10 a.m - 5 p.m. and Sunday 2 - 5 p.m.