Bolo Ties: Not Just For Westerns

Nov 23, 2011
Originally published on November 23, 2011 4:32 pm

An Arizona museum is giving that state's official neck wear a display all of its own for the next several months. The Heard Museum has opened its newest exhibit: Native American Bolo Ties: Vintage and Contemporary. It will run through next September.

Before you laugh, Arizona isn't the only state that recognizes bolo ties as its official neck wear. So do New Mexico and Texas, but the Heard Museum proudly notes Arizona was the first to do it in 1971. There's even a Bola Tie Society of Arizona, whose members insist the tie's correct name is actually spelled b-o-l-a, not b-o-l-o, although people disagree, according to the Washington Post. Members have been meeting monthly since 1966.

The Heard, in Phoenix, is showing dozens of bolo ties from its own collection, but there'll be more on display because of a gift from collector Norman Sandfield, who's donating many to the museum. The Heard says Sandfield's "collection consists of more than 1,000 bolo ties, scarf slides and ephemera, many of which will be on display."

The bolo tie is generally considered Western wear, and museum visitors can see how it became popular in the 1950s with television stars like Roy Rogers. But they'll also be treated to the works of Native American jewelers from the mid-20th century to the present.

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