Last updated: 2/14/2012
Midland, Texas
Street Address
1500 Interstate 20 West
Midland, TX 79701
Mailing Address
1500 Interstate 20 West
Midland, TX 79701
phone: 432-683-4403
fax: 432-683-4509
Monday - Saturday10 AM - 5 PM
Sunday2 PM - 5 PM
Adults $8.00
Ages 12-17 & Seniors 65 & above: $6.00
Children (6 – 11) $5.00
Children under 6 are free.
Gift Shop
Special Event Rental
Kathy Shannon, Executive Director
Fifi Sanchez, Office and Gift Shop Manager
Ruben Vargas, Marketing Director

Every visit to The Petroleum Museum is an opportunity to experience the fun side of science firsthand. Our spectacular exhibit wings offer remarkable insight into the specific and technological world around us, from the age when dinosaurs roamed the Permian Basin to the Wild Oil Boom in West Texas!

The Petroleum Museum has welcomed over one million visitors worldwide. It shares the petroleum and energy story and its impact on our daily lives through educational programs, interactive exhibits, an Archives Center and its Petroleum Hall of Fame.

The Museum’s educational programs are designed with the concept that doing is better than just reading about science. These programs are highlighted in community events such as quarterly Family Science Nights, Lunch and Lectures, a Puppet Show, Summer Day Camps, Summer Movie Camps and Scout Camp-ins. With something for everyone, learning at The Petroleum Museum is never ending.

The addition of the Transportation Wing in 2004, which houses the Chaparral Gallery, enables the Museum to enhance the story of the interdependence of petroleum and surface transportation by telling the pioneering history of the Chaparral Road Racers. The applications of engineering sciences, particularly those in aerodynamics and mechanical engineering, are embedded throughout the exhibits and Chaparral Car displays. Each discipline was mastered by the Chaparral team to design and build the race cars that would revolutionize motor sports.

Indeed, a visit to The Petroleum Museum is nothing less than an amazing journey through over 230 million year of history. Located in the heart of the Permian Basin, The Petroleum Museum offers over 32,000 square feet of interactive education and entertainment for adventure of all ages.


Oil and gas producer George T. Abell conceived the idea of the museum and led a dedicated campaign for the museum's charter as a nonprofit 502 (c) 3 institution in 1967. Five hundred forty petroleum industry leaders throughout the Southwest signed the petition for incorporation. In 1969, the board hired an executive director to initiate fundraising. Construction began in 1973, and The Petroleum Museum opened its door to the public in 1975.

Additions since the opening include the "Oil Patch" exterior exhibits (1976), the Archives Center (1978), the industry production phase wing (1981), the education department (1986), the modern pumping unit exterior exhibit (1987), the environmental exhibit (1994), and the modern drilling rig exterior exhibit (1996).

Today, The Petroleum Museum stands as the largest and most integrated petroleum-related museum in the world. As a unique education facility, the museum serves to tell the cultural and technical stories of the oil and gas industry. Its state-of-the-art mechanical-electronic exhibits, original historical paintings, archives, library, and variety of educational programs help to nurture curiosity and stimulate learning for all visitors.

Artifact Collections

The Petroleum Museum offers an amazing journey through 500 million years of history. Its 40,000 square feet of interactive exhibits cover all aspects of the petroleum industry from geology, the formation of oil, its exploration, pipelining, marketing, and refining to the economic and political impact of the industry. Intertwined within the petroleum exhibits are historical displays of the cultural history of man in the Permian Basin of West Texas and Southeast New Mexico.

Research Collections

The Archive Center and Library is a historical collection of primary sources on all phases of the petroleum industry (exploration, drilling, production, pipelining, marketing, service and supply). The Center is for the collection, preservation, and dissemination of knowledge, both through exhibits and publications of the petroleum industry and its "makers and shakers."

The Center is a depository of private papers, company records, sound recordings (over 500 one-hour tapes with typed transcriptions), motion picture film (1926-), and maps. There are over 230,000 photographs pertinent to the Permian Basin petroleum industry, its boomtowns and cities (those based on an economy of oil), along with thousands of portraits of oil men and women.

There are 160-canned aerial film of the entire Permian Basin, taken between 1943 and 1946.

There is a non-circulating reference library that includes over 1500 books, company in-house journals, industry trade magazines and catalogues, dating back to 1884 for researching the oil and gas tools, and equipment donated to the museum. The Center also has newspaper runs, including the San Angelo Standard Times, The Colorado City Clipper, Fort Stockton Pioneer, and The Pecos Gusher and Pecos Enterprise (1911-1963). The Center contains over 3,000 square feet including reading room, administrative offices, reference library, art storage room, and a conservation and processing room.

The reference library is available for research for historians, scholars, reporters, and researchers.

Educational Programs

The museum offers several types of educational programs. The docent program currently has over 30 trained volunteers to provide docented tours for students and adults. The museum provides tours each school year for all of the city's 4th and 8th grade students. Schools throughout the Permian Basin also incorporate the Petroleum Museum into their curriculum. Our pre-visit puppet show, also provided by volunteers, prepares elementary students for their field trip by dramatizing Permian Basin history and introducing important petroleum concepts.

Outreach programs are also available to area schools and groups. Museum staff and volunteers provide programs covering geology, fossils, Midland history, Indians, and dinosaurs. Museum camp-ins offer scout groups an overnight experience while providing quality educational programs pertaining to the evening's theme.

The museum's Brown Bag Lunch series brings various speakers to the museum covering area history and industry topics several times a year.


Access: General Public, Students, Scholars, Members

Appointment required: No


The museum newsletter, Museum Memo, is published quarterly: March, June, September, and December. The institution has published Permian: A Continuing Saga by Elmer Kelton with reproductions and descriptions of the Petroleum Museum's collection of fourteen Tom Lovell paintings and a two-volume history of the Permian Basin by Samuel D. Myres, Era of Discovery and Era of Advancement. Publications pertaining to the permanent collection include:

1. Permian: A Continuing Saga

Text by Elmer Kelton, paintings by Tom Lovell, copyright 1985 by The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum Lirbary and Hall of Fame, 137 pages

2. Photographic Collections in Texas: A Union Guide

Compiled by Richard Pearce-Moses, copyright 1987 by The Texas Historical Foundation, 378+ pages (Chapter, the Petroleum Museum's Archives Collection of Photographes, pages 254-258)

3. Early Texas Oil: A Photographic History 1866-1936

Text by Walter Rundell, Jr., copyright 1977 by Walter Rundell, Jr., 260 pages (Chapter on Big Lake with photographs, pages 188-198; chapter on the Permian Basin with photographs, pages 196-207)

4. Oil in West Texas and New Mexico

Text by Walter Rundell, Jr., copyright 1982 by The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum Library and Hall of Fame, 183 pages. Published for The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum Library and Hall of Fame by Texas A&M University Press, College Station. Entire book of 241 photos of the Permian Basin, includes 2 maps and 9 illustrations.

5. Docent Manual for The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum Library and Hall of Fame

Compiled by Gladys Hickman and Melba Pullig, copyright 1980 by The Permian Basin Petroleum Museum Library and Hall of Fame.

6. The Permian Basin Era of Discovery, Era of Advancement

Funded by the Abell-Hanger Foundation of Midland. Contains chapter of the formation of the Petroleum Museum. The Permian Press, El Paso, Texas. Volume I contains over 200 photos of oil well and oil field activities, boom towns, and portraits of men and women of the oil and gas industry. Volume II contains nearly 200 photos.

7. Life in the Oil Fields

By Roger M. and Diane Olien, copyright 1986, 258+ pages. Texas Monthly Press, Austin. Written with the use of hundreds of photos and taped interviews, including those from The Petroleum Museum Archives.

8. Join the Excitement!

Copyright 1993 by The Petroleum Museum. Production by CQ Productions, Dallas. Half-inch video: 9 minutes, 35 seconds. History and overview of the collections and programs of this museum.

9. Tom Lovell: Storyteller with a Brush

Autobiography narrated by Tom Lovell of Santa Fe, celebrated western artist 1909-1997, who painted 14 masterpieces of work, commissioned by The Abell-Hanger Foundation of Midland. These paintings are on loan to this museum and are part of the West Wing exhibits. In 1992, Lovell gave the museum 67 original "working drawings" from eight of these paintings. This exhibit of his 67 original drawings are on temporary exhibit in the museum's West Wing Gallery and will more than likely become a traveling exhibit. Copyright 1995 by The Petroleum Museum. Half-inch video: 29 minutes. Produced by CQ Productions, Dallas.


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