“Never underestimate the power of women, especially Cozad, Neb., grandmothers.” Tom Allan started his October 7, 1984 article in the Sunday World Herald with this statement about the founding of the Robert Henri Museum and Historical Walkway. It all started with a small group of people that saw the opportunity to honor a long-forgotten native son and bring recognition to the town that once was home to world-renowned artist, Robert Henri. This group, led by Shirley Paulsen, bought and restored the Hotel Hendee, the building that had once owned and operated by Robert Henri’s father, John J. Cozad. The committee also established the Historical Walkway that includes an original Pony Express Station, historic church and one-room schoolhouse.
With local support and generous donations from Cozad/Henri family members across the United States, the Robert Henri Museum continues to grow. The first original Henri painting, “Mariana of Austria, Queen of Spain,” was donated to the museum by Janet LeClair in 1988. In 2014, a climate-controlled art gallery was built to house the growing collection of original Henri works. Tammy and Larry Paulsen have donated and loaned a number of Henri paintings, and an anonymous donor has recently donated more than 30 Henri sketches to the collection. As of today, the Robert Henri Gallery houses the largest display of Robert Henri original works in the world.