Destination Spotlight – American Windmill Museum
Latest Update: The American Windmill Museum recently opened a brand new Wind Energy Experience building, featuring 33,000 square feet of new exhibits and displays. The main purpose of the new exhibit is to educate visitors on the history and relationship of trains and windmills. In fact, one of the main features in the new building is a G-scale train exhibit. You’ll also find a few windmills on display, as well as an impressive collection of miniature houses. There is even a new meeting space perfect for board retreats and small gatherings. Learn all about it here!
This destination spotlight features a Lubbock favorite. In fact, this location holds the largest collection of windmills in the world – definitely a site worth seeing. Learn more about the American Windmill Museum as your read our discussion with Tanya Meadows, Director of Marketing.
What is the American Windmill Museum, and what sets it apart from other museums of its kind?
The American Windmill Museum (AWM) is the largest display of American-style water pumping windmills in the world. Although our focus is water pumping windmills, we also have machines that grind grains and produce electricity. Most historic museums have a windmill or two on display, and there are a few other windmill museums in the United States, but our collection is by far the largest.
What is the history of the museum?
The AWM was started in 1993 by Ms. Billie Wolfe, who was a professor at Texas Tech University in the home economics department. She would often go out to people’s homes to work with them and would document that work with photos. She would then use the photos as teaching tools. She took notice of the windmills in disrepair and made it her quest to try to preserve as many of the machines as possible. She learned, in early 1993, of a gentleman in Nebraska that had a collection of rare, historic windmills. She went to visit him and made arrangements to purchase his collection. She then hired the AWM’s current Executive Director, Mr. Coy Harris, who began the process of moving the mills from Nebraska to Lubbock. The mills were kept in storage until 1998 when the City of Lubbock offered the museum 28 acres of rolling grass land just south of Mackenzie Park. The windmills then had a permanent home, and Mr. Harris began the process of erecting the mills for the enjoyment of future generations.
Tell us about the “Legacy of the Wind” mural. When was it painted? What does it represent?
When the decision was made to do something to enhance our special events area, a call was put out to Lubbock-area artists. The theme of “sunrise to sunset” in the life of a windmill was offered out, and bids and sketches were solicited. A design submitted by two instructors from the Texas Tech Architectural Art Department was selected and the 6,000-square-foot “Legacy of the Wind” mural was born. The southeast corner shows a Dutch-style windmill with a sunrise, which feeds into a early pioneer setting and progresses into a early 1900’s town. It then goes on to a 1940’s cotton farm and rounding the corner to a field of modern wind turbines under a harvest moon. The walls were prepared, and the actual painting began in October of 2007. The main artist, Ms. La Gina Fairbetter, worked on-site using a snorkel truck and a scissor lift to reach the almost three-story tall areas of the room. The mural evolved from different areas of the room as it came to life with sponsorship logos being added with the people, animals, plants and, of course, windmills. The signing party to call it done was held on December 1, 2011.
Does the AWM hold any annual events?
The AWM holds an annual fundraising dinner, “Panache on the Prairie.” Traditionally we feature prime rib, baked potato, salad, green beans, rolls and cake for dessert. There is a live auction and a silent auction.
“Windy City” has also become an annual event. We put up a Christmas village with “HO” scale trains running through. This Christmas will be the fourth year for “Windy City,” and each year it has grown. We have a country Santa and Mrs. Clause on the grounds along with the mini ponies on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. It is a great time to visit the museum with the children or grandchildren and get their picture made with Santa.
Why should families visit the AWM?
Not only are the windmills historical artifacts that the Llano Estacado would not have been able to survive without, but they are beautiful to look at and hold value in the form of history, art, engineering, science and math. Learning about the mills and their history is fun for all ages.
Come out and visit the AWM Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Admission is $7.50 per person, or $20 for a family of four. See you there!
American Windmill Museum Fast Facts:
Location: 1701 Canyon Lake Drive
Hours of Operation: Tuesday – Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., Sundays (in May – September only) 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.