Permian Basin Petroleum Museum

1500 Interstate 20 West, Midland, TX 79701 - United States





Welcome to the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum. Founded in 1975 by over 500 community leaders under the leadership of George T. Abell, the Museum tells the story of petroleum and the rugged lives of men and women who sought a better life.

What started as a community dream has, over time, become the nation’s largest museum dedicated to the petroleum industry and its pioneers. 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.

A visit to the Petroleum Museum is an amazing journey through over 230 million years of history. Located in the heart of the Permian Basin, the Petroleum Museum offers over 40,000 square feet of interactive education and entertainment for adventurers of all ages. The mission of the Permian Basin Petroleum Museum is to share the petroleum and energy story and its impact on our lives.


An introductory film welcomes visitors by examining and dispelling common petroleum myths via a Family Feud-style game show, because “it’s what you think you know that just ain’t so.”

Permian Reef
Upon exiting the theater, guests are fully immersed into a dramatic recreation of a 250 million-year-old Permian reef, featuring the Museum’s original 1975 reef diorama, beautifully restored.

Birth of an Industry
Midland comes to life via a re-creation of a 1930s Boom Town, complete with a general store, land office and an array of early Midland artifacts.

The Voyage of the PetroTrekker
As the tactical engineers of a petroleum exploration vessel, guests journey across land, through space and under the sea to find new sources of petroleum. This immersive theater features interactive touch screens, dramatic lighting and special effects to place guests in the heart of the action.

Risk and Reward
In this game-based exhibit, guests run into various obstacles as they drill for oil and must determine whether to forge ahead or walk away.
Supplemental Energies
This area explains the supplemental energies, from solar to hydro to nuclear, that are being used to power our cars, homes and cities.

Chevron Energy City
This brightly colored “city”, geared towards visitors ages 6-9, teaches children about various forms of energy and the steps they can take to conserve energy in their everyday lives.

Chaparral Gallery
The science of aerodynamics was never completely appreciated by automobile designers until James Ellis Hall revolutionized the sport in his Chaparral Racing Cars. Jim Hall is revered by the world’s racing community as the innovator who introduced the movable wing in 1965. His aerodynamic wing, ground effects and light weight construction materials transformed auto racing as well as passenger car safety and fuel efficiency in the 20th Century. With great cars and talented drivers, the Chaparral team won fame worldwide, and gave American race fans a team for which to cheer. All of the existing Chaparral Cars are on display in the Museum and kept in running condition.

Mineral Gallery
The gallery brings geology to life with over 90 mineral specimens from across the globe. The exhibit features specimens from the Petroleum Museum’s collection, as well as exquisite pieces on loan from some of the finest mineral collections in Texas.

Abell Family Gallery
The cultural history of the people of the Permian Basin is beautifully told through 14 paintings by western artist, Tom Lovell. The subject of each painting is a story in itself. Lovell, a “storyteller with a brush,” worked closely with the founder of the Museum, George T. Abell to create a unique collection of 14 paintings that each chose a moment in the history of the Permian Basin.

Participation in Museum Day is open to any tax-exempt or governmental museum or cultural venue on a voluntary basis. Smithsonian magazine encourages museum visitation, but is not responsible for and does not endorse the content of the participating museums and cultural venues, and does not subsidize museums that participate.