Welcome to the National Ranching Heritage Center in Lubbock, Texas, where Quatrefoil is designing a brand-new, high-tech exhibition experience that takes visitors on a journey to the heart of a working ranch. “Hank the Cowdog,” the beloved character in the popular children’s book series, is the primary guide, while Hank’s creator, John R. Erickson, is also along for the ride to help visitors get oriented as they enter. But John isn’t just a talking head on an everyday video screen. He literally steps off the page of a giant book and materializes as a holographic tour guide, occupying the same space as the visitor.

A man in a cowboy hat works with a film crew.

Author John Erickson films his segment for the holographic guide experience.

Three people install a giant book on a wall in a museum

The giant interactive book—from which John emerges—was installed on site in August.

The virtual John gives folks his own unique perspective on cowboy life, recalling the grit and determination it takes to work on the ranch. This immersive experience combines innovative technology and engaging storytelling to offer an authentic view of ranch life. John’s virtual twin also highlights what you can see and do at the Center, including the opportunity to become a super sleuth with Hank the Cowdog himself.

As the “official” head of ranch security, Hank leads visitors in an interactive experience where they solve puzzles and investigate mysteries on the ranch—mysteries like the unexplained and very suspicious deaths of several prized chickens! Inspired by the popular books, the game is a light-hearted mix of clever Cowdog banter and prairie ecology as participants identify suspects in the bewildering chicken murders!

This isn’t the only engaging experience at the new Center. We had fun developing a larger-than-life-size video wall of the anatomy of a cow. Through an interactive touch screen, visitors can explore the cow’s four-chambered stomach and digestive cycle; they can learn about the many breeds of cattle, their origins, and crossbreeding techniques. Authentic cowboy clothing, tools, and gear are also on display, offering a glimpse into the multifaceted roles and responsibilities of cowboys on the ranch.

For those who like to get real, we developed a strategy-based digital game called “The Business of Ranching,” a multiplayer simulation that explores the business of ranching, from managing crops to the challenges of extreme weather. The game touches on the principles of supply and demand, herd management, and the importance of planning ahead. Another multimedia interactive, “Prairie Management” invites visitors to manage their land, through different tools: Cow, Axe, Plow, Match, or Gun to maintain the landscape.

A conceptual drawing of a people standing around a touch table.

One of our favorite parts of the new Ranching Heritage Center is a jaw-dropping 240-degree video experience that transports visitors out onto the busy prairie. From herding cattle to witnessing the deep bond between cowboys and their horses, to the art of roping stray calves or caring for sick cattle, video diaries provide a unique glimpse into the daily realities of ranch life. These captivating vignettes offer visitors a profound appreciation for the resilience, dedication, and unwavering spirit of ranchers.

Men in cowboy hats wrangle heads of cattle on a ranch.

Two cowboys on the Texas range amidst a herd of cattle.

And, there’s so much to see and do! Our next installment of the “Living the Ranching Life” will feature even more experiences! Stay tuned.