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John Wayne: The name itself is synonymous with strength, grit, and dignity for many Americans. Though these traits shine through in all John Wayne movies, Duke’s real display of character was never bolder than during his fight with cancer. Visitors to North Texas can experience the life and legacy of John Wayne at Fort Worth’s most popular new museum.

After exhibit tours in Nashville and Las Vegas, it was evident that his influence was still as strong as ever. The Wayne family felt inspired to create a permanent destination for people to come and celebrate his life and accomplishments. What started as a traveling, pop-up exhibit has turned into a Stockyards fixture. John Wayne: An American Experience, named the 2023 “Best Museum in Fort Worth” by Fort Worth Magazine, has hosted thousands of people from all over the world and is in the process of expanding to showcase even more of John Wayne’s life.

The exhibit often hosts special events to give guests something extra while they visit. Every year around May 26, Duke’s birthday, the museum hosts John Wayne Day. This year, the event takes place Saturday, May 25 from 4 to 7 p.m., and will feature appearances by members of the family, hat branding, chain stitching, Gold Handle Coffee and Duke Spirits tastings, book signings, photo opportunities, and more… plus, the unveiling of the exhibit’s new expansion!

John Wayne: An American Experience is modeled in a way that is reflective of John Wayne as a man: Each room embodies who he was as a person through each major chapter of his life. All the pieces on display were hand-selected by the Wayne family from their personal archives and best represent who he was during that chapter of his life.

Starting in the “Becoming John Wayne” gallery, we learn about his childhood, family life, and how he got his start in the acting business. After learning about his incredible influence in pop culture over the years, guests can enter “A Life on Screen”—a room entirely dedicated to his film career. On display are costumes from his most iconic films, personal scripts, special props, and the Oscar Duke won for his role in True Grit (1969).

Fans of John Wayne know that he was walking the talk, even off-screen. In “A Man of the People” room, we learn how he put his values into practice: spending time with family on his boat, The Wild Goose; visiting troops; engaging in diplomatic correspondence with presidents; and, of course, connecting with fans. Viewers can enjoy personal Wayne family photos, read letters, and hear stories that give a glimpse into who this independent cowboy was when he was out of the limelight.

The museum’s expansion will include 3,500 square feet of additional space, allowing for new rotating exhibits. The first rotating exhibit, on display May 24, 2024, through December 31, 2025, is The John Wayne Gun Collection: Guns that Won the West. The unique, curated collection of firearms spans four decades of John Wayne films, from The Big Trail (1930) to The Shootist (1976). This exhibit, curated in collaboration with John Wayne Enterprises and the National Firearms Museum (NRA), features highlights including the Remington 1861 New Model Army used by John Wayne in his first starring role, The Big Trail; the short-barreled large loop Winchester Model 1892 used in True Grit, Big Jake, Rooster Cogburn, and The Shootist; and a Colt 1890 Gatling Gun used in The War Wagon and Rooster Cogburn.

At the end of the tour, guests can commemorate their experience at the John Wayne Stock & Supply retail flagship. In this one-of-a-kind shop, you’ll discover timeless, authentic, high-quality goods that Duke himself would have loved. John Wayne Stock & Supply works closely with craftsmen across the country to bring you hand-selected products that we believe in. Come in to shop leather goods, apparel, seasonal gifts, and more.

John Wayne truly was larger than life and there is no better place to learn about his extraordinary life than John Wayne: An American Experience.

Before his death, John Wayne asked his children to use his name to help doctors find a cure for cancer. Today, the John Wayne Cancer Foundation raises money to fund research programs at top universities, special research projects performed by industry-leading surgical oncologists, and a skincare education program called Block the Blaze.

To fundraise for cancer research, the John Wayne Cancer Foundation created a series of trail runs called the Grit Series. These runs range from 5Ks to half marathons and take place in some of the prettiest country you’ve ever seen. The final Grit Series race of the year takes place in the Fort Worth Stockyards. On November 9, participants can run a 5K through the Stockyards, beginning and ending in front of John Wayne: An American Experience. As with all Grit Series races, all proceeds from the event go directly to cancer research and education. We’d love to see you at the starting line. In the fight against cancer, our community is stronger together.

For more information on John Wayne: An American Experience, visit For more information on the Grit Series and the initiatives hosted by the John Wayne Cancer Foundation, visit

Bailey Powell Aldrich

A seventh generation Texan, Aldrich returned home to her roots in 2022 to work alongside her father, Keith, and take over the family business of publishing Fort Worth Key Magazine.

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