Western Music Association board members voted Saturday, June 21, to partner with Silver Saddle Productions to bring the WMA Hall of Fame to Branson and have it housed in the Heritage of the West Museum.
The museum, restaurant and club, planned for opening in about five to six months, is part of a $100 million, two-part development that includes the Great American Wild West Show and retail complex on Gretna Road, along with Mission Square across the road next to the Branson Mills Craft Village.
Mission Square will open first with the museum and Ghost Riders Restaurant featuring western and country music with other developments to follow.
“The heritage of the West is a living thing,” WMA Executive Director Jon Messenger said. “Part of the (scope) of the museum is when people see this museum, they not only understand the past of the West, but they understand a little of the present.”
The initial contact by Don and Sharon Ensley, owners of the production company, was made in January with the association’s board.
The chairman of the advisory board to the association, Rex Allen Jr., said the production company contacted him after the first of the year with a concept of the venue for the Great American Wild West Show.
“They were looking for participation of western performers. It has been my goal to take western music to the next level, which is a permanent hall of fame,” Allen said, explaining that adding the WMA would provide the first permanent home for all things western.
“There is none now. Somewhere a bronze of my father and Gene Autrey and Roy Rogers, and Marty Robbins can be displayed. Someplace where people can come in and see it,” he said of the singing cowboy hall of famers.
Plans for the Mission Square museum show may include a carriage shop where guests may watch craftsmen building wagons. It will feature singing cowboys, silver screen western movies and life in the American West displays.
The Design Development Group has been retained, according to SSP general manager Cary Parker, who said the group concerned with the museum had toured the site by helicopter last week.
The 2,000-seat indoor stadium for the Great American Wild West Show is slated for opening in the spring of 2009.
“The entire 50-acre project will take about three to four years to complete,” Parker said.