The Layland Museum is comprised of multiple buildings located on Caddo St. and Main St. in downtown Cleburne. The museum’s gallery is located in the Carnegie Library building. The Smith History Center holds the research library and kitchen classroom. Many of the museum’s public programs will place in the Studio, located in the Cleburne Railroad Museum.
In 1900, the Women’s Club of Cleburne contacted steel industrialist Andrew Carnegie for assistance in building a library for the community. Carnegie, a champion of libraries, contributed $20,000 to the project, which the community then matched. The building opened on May 25th, 1905.
The Layland Museum came into existence through a gift in 1963. William J. Layland, a local businessman, had collected some 500 ethnographic items in the early 1900s. His heirs offered the items to the City of Cleburne and the Layland Museum began.
The collection found display space on the second floor of the city’s Carnegie Library, known as the Cleburne Public Library at that time. School students were among the first to discover the artifact collection which included guns, fossils, Indian clothing, clay pottery, photographs, and game animal trophy mounts.
In 1978, the Layland Museum gained full access to the Carnegie Library building after the local library moved to a new location. Through the years, the collection has grown to include thousands of objects from hundreds of donors. The museum is open 5 days a week and free of charge, offering quality exhibits and public programs about local and regional history.
In 2016, the Cleburne Railroad Museum opened on the same block and became part of our museum complex. We are proud to be able to focus on the integral role played by the railroads in Cleburne’s history.
The building is a Greek Revival style that was popular in the era. The front entrance and main room feature ionic columns with ornamental necking. There are various styles of plaster decorating both interior and exterior features. The structure is largely unchanged from its original construction, though interior furnishings and finishes were changed through the years to match the latest trend. The restoration of the building to its original state is ongoing.
The Layland Museum is comprised of multiple buildings located on Caddo St. and Main St. in downtown Cleburne.
The Carnegie Library building houses the museum’s gallery and office spaces.
Smith History Center
The Smith History Center serves as the museum’s support facility and annex. Its interior is divided into curatorial services, artifact storage, Armadillo Room with teaching kitchen for classes and demonstrations, and the Gillespie Research Library. The Armadillo Room and Gillespie Library are open only during scheduled programs or by appointment and are not available to rent.
Visible through the showroom windows on Main Street, a Sidewalk Exhibit of period vehicles, related objects, and neon lighting is a tribute to the building’s past as an automobile dealership.
The 1914 commercial building at 200 N. Main Street in downtown Cleburne was originally a grocery store. For many years it served as automobile dealerships. In 1994, the Layland Museum acquired the ideally located structure for future development. Rehabilitation, completed in the summer of 2010, returned the building’s exterior to its early 20th century appearance.
Many scheduled programs take place in the Studio. This multi-purpose space is equipped for audio/visual presentations as well as arts and crafts and more. Located at 206 N. Main in the Cleburne Railroad Museum, this space is shared by the Layland and Cleburne Railroad Museums.
The Museum Advisory Board is comprised of volunteers who donate their time to advise and raise funds, museum exhibits, programs, and more. They serve two-year terms with the option of extending an additional term. For more information, or to complete an application, click here.
The Layland Museum exists to serve the people of Cleburne, Johnson County and those wanting to learn more about the rich history and culture of this area. We depend on the support of the community and visitors alike to fulfill our mission.
The museum utilizes volunteers in every aspect of our work. There is no shortage of opportunities for citizens to help. Fill out a volunteer application here. The areas of volunteerism include:
- Research: The museum is looking for people knowledgeable in local history with an interest in research to help the museum staff fill the research requests we receive.
- Education Programs: There are multiple ways you can help with education and public programs. We are always looking for speakers, demonstrators, or craft leaders who can assist with our events for both adults and children. If you have a particular skill or are knowledgeable about a subject that relates to the museum’s mission, we would love to have your assistance.
- Reception Desk: We are looking for people willing to volunteer to work at the front desk while the staff are occupied with other activities. This includes greeting visitors and answering questions about the museum and its collection as well as answering phones and assisting researchers.
- Collection Projects: There are several ongoing projects involving the museum’s collection. We are in the process of doing a full inventory of the items in the museum. We are also digitizing the photograph collection. If you are interested in working with the museum’s artifacts we would love to have your assistance.
The museum offers both paid and unpaid summer and semester-long internships for students and recent graduates. Interns gain hands-on experience working with artifacts, assisting with education programming and an in-depth look at the way a museum operates. Contact the museum for more information.
Friends of the Museum
Friends of the Layland Museum is a membership program that plays a most valuable role. Membership fees help fund education programs, artifact storage and exhibit expenses.
Membership begins at $15 for an individual and lasts the calendar year, from January to December. In addition to a 10% discount in the museum store, Friends are invited to events such as:
- Quarterly day tours of various Texas museums, historic sites and cultural institutions
- Semiannual exhibit previews
- Annual Friends Dinner
- New Year’s Reception
- Shopping Days in the Museum store with additional discounts
Please consider joining Friends of the Layland Museum. Your support will help us catalogue, store and protect the 150,000+ artifacts and images in our collection, and use the collection to develop educational programs and exhibits. Fill out and return the Friends of the Museum application form.