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Majorly renovated petroleum exhibition to reopen Saturday at PPHM
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by Chip Chandler — Digital Content Producer

A remodeled exhibition celebrating black gold – Texas tea, even – opens Saturday at Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon.

A $1.6 million renovation project began in January 2015 on “The Panhandle Petroleum Story” exhibition, part of the museum’s Don D. Harrington Petroleum Wing. It’s the biggest overhaul of the exhibition since it opened in 1986.

“We wanted to make it more engaging and more interactive to our public,” said Becky Livingston, PPHM curator of history. “In this exhibit, it’s more about the people than the various (oil) companies. … It’s the story about the people involved in developing (the industry).”

The exhibition – which will officially open with an 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday reception – features a new learning center, a working 1950s pump jack, an expanded geology section and a look at modern-day oil and gas work.

“Because we are a history museum, we have to concentrate mostly on the history, but we wanted people to have a brief overview of how petroleum is explored for and developed today so they have an understanding when they hear about it,” Livingston said.

The exhibition is “a much more interactive, family and multigenerational space,” said marketing and communications manager Stephanie Price.

It’s only natural that the museum place a large spotlight on the area’s petroleum industry, Livingston said.

“The discovery of oil and gas kind of brought Amarillo and the Texas Panhandle out of the … preindustrial era and into the modern era,” Livingston said. “It increased the population, led to lot more jobs. … It ushered in the transportation revolution.

“And it continues today. It’s an important industry in the Panhandle right up until today.”

Saturday’s grand reopening event at the museum, 2503 Fourth Ave. in Canyon, will feature crafts, activities, a hot dog lunch and more.

Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and $5 for children. Call 806-651-2244 or visit


* Chip Chandler is a digital content producer for Panhandle PBS. He can be contacted at, at @chipchandler1 on Twitter and at on Facebook.