Buffalo Bill Historical Center
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (December 2009)|
|This article relies largely or entirely upon a single source. (December 2009)|
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center is a complex of five museums and a research library displaying artifacts and art of the American West located in Cody, Wyoming. Founded in 1917 to preserve the legacy and vison of Col. William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center (BBHC) is the oldest and most comprehensive museum of the West. It has been described by The New York Times as "among the nation's most remarkable museums." (Edward Rothstein, New York Times, August 3, 2012)
Since 2008, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center has been part of the Smithsonian Affiliations program. As an Affiliate collaborator, with a strong desire to help share America's artistic and historic heritage, the BBHC has hosted Smithsonian artifacts, and has recently loaned some of the their vast collections to a Smithsonian exhibition in Washington, D.C.
The museums of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center are tied together by a unifying "credo" (adopted 2010 by the Board of Trustees) that begins, "We believe in a spirit, definable and intellectually real, called "The Spirit of the American West.'" The institution includes the recently reconceived Buffalo Bill Museum (New York Times, August 3, 2012), which highlights Western ephemera and historic objects that contribute in telling the life story of W. F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody.
Buffalo Bill Museum
Debuting in summer 2012, the Buffalo Bill Museum is now in its fourth iteration. The inaugural museum opened in 1927 in a log cabin across from the current location. It was reinstalled in 1986, and now, 85 years later, is part of an impressive five-museum complex. Today's all-new Buffalo Bill Museum presents a complete 21st century experience for visitors.
Today, the museum offers a wide-ranging view of the life and times of William F. Cody, as well as the "Buffalo Bill" character he created and which made him the world's most celebrated person of his time. The story of "Man of the West, Man of the World" presents an interactive narrative of this complex man.
The museum not only showcases the fame and success Cody attained through Buffalo Bill's Wild West show, but includes the significant and long-lasting impacts he made - and continues to make - on the economic and cultural development of the American West. The exhibits also reveal an intimate portrait of this major American figure - both his personal successes and failures, and financial fortunes and misfortunes.
Plains Indians Museum
The Plains Indians Museum features the stories and objects of Plains Indian people, their cultures, traditions, values and histories, as well as the contexts of their lives today. Since 1979, the Plains Indian Museum has been a leader in promoting public recognition of the importance of Plains Indian art due to its nationally significant collection. The first curator was George Horse-Capture, an enrolled member of the A'aninin tribe. The majority of the collection is from the early reservation period, ca. 1880-1930, and relates primarily to Northern Plains tribes, such as the Arapaho, Lakota, Crow, Cheyenne, Blackfeet and Pawnee. The holdings also include important contemporary objects, ranging from abstract art to star quilts.
In September 2007, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center acquired the Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection, recognized as the most historic and important privately held collection of Plains Indian artifacts, art work, and related materials in the world. The collection includes clothing, eagle feather bonnets, bear claw necklaces, buffalo hide tipis and tipi furnishings, shields, cradles, peace medals, and moccasins. It dates from the late 18th century to pre-1890s.
The Plains Indian Museum also sponsors the Plains Indian Museum Powwow held each year on the third weekend in June at the Robbie Powwow Garden at the BBHC, an event that attracts dancers and artisans from all over North America.
Whitney Gallery of Western Art
The Whitney Gallery of Western Art features paintings and sculptures of the American west. The gallery first opened in 1959 and re-opened on June 21, 2009 following a re-installation. The gallery is organized thematically, with spaces dedicated to heroes and legends, the heroic cowboy, wildlife, horseses in the West, inspirational landscapes, first people of the West, and the Western experience. Replicas of the studios of both Frederic Remington and Alexander Phimister Proctor help visitors learn about the artists and their techniques. Other classic Western artists include George Catlin, Edgar Samuel Paxson, Alfred Jacob Miller, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, Alexander Phimister Proctor, W.R. Leigh, Joseph Henry Sharp and N.C. Wyeth. More contemporary Western artists include Harry Jackson, James Bama, Deborah Butterfield, Fritz Scholder, and the sculptor Grant Speed. Interactive stations allow visitors to create their own works of art. The renovation and expansion was designed by Curtis W. Fentress, FAIA, RIBA of Fentress Architects.
Cody Firearms Museum
The Cody Firearms Museum houses the most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world. The collection includes firearms ranging from a 16th Century hand cannon to guns of modern manufacture, and includes guns from almost every significant gun manufacturer in the world. The Winchester Collection, the heart of this museum, was transported from New Haven, Connecticut to Cody in 1976. Dedicated in 1991, the Cody Firearms Museum provides a permanent home for the Winchester collection as well as the largest collection of DuBiel Arms Company rifles in the United States today. Visitors can also learn about topics in firearms manufacturing, including factory workers, business competition,and innovations in production. Within the exhibits, visitors are able to trace the evolution of modern firearms technology from its earliest days through today's variations. Membership to the Cody Firearms Museum allows access to the Cody Firearms Museum Records Service, which provides information from original factory records of the Winchester, Marlin or L.C. Smith companies based on the make and serial number of the firearm.
Draper Museum of Natural History
The Draper Museum of Natural History features approximately 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) of interactive exhibits highlighting geology, wildlife, and human presence in the Greater Yellowstone region. Videos, natural history dioramas and photography replicate the sights, sounds, and smells of the area, and specimens of grizzlies, wolves, bighorn sheep, moose, elk and other wildlife are on display. The Draper Museum of Natural History opened to the public on June 4, 2002 and bears the name of Nancy Carroll-Draper, Buffalo Bill Historical Center trustee and benefactor. The Draper museum also houses adult and children's classrooms and the John Bunker Sands photography gallery. The renovation and expansion was designed by Curtis W. Fentress.
Harold McCracken Research Library
The Harold McCracken Research Library houses a collection of 30,000 books, over 400 manuscript collections, and more than a half-million photographs. Named in honor of the illustrious Harold McCracken, writer, artist, and Buffalo Bill Center of the West developer, the library seeks to support “inquiry across many disciplines related to the American West.” Of particular strength are the library’s collections relating to: Buffalo Bill, the Wild West show, Plains Indians, dude and cattle ranching, the fishing and hunting industries, the oil industry, Yellowstone National Park, and the Winchester Repeating Arms Company. The work of Wyoming photographers Charles Belden, Stan Kernshaw, Jack Richard, and F. J. Hiscock are also foremost among the library’s holdings. Researchers and the public are welcome to visit the library by appointment.
- "Buffalo Bill Historical Center". Affiliate Detail. Smithsonian Affiliates. 2011. Retrieved 15 Jul 2011.
- "Buffalo Bill Historical Center Now a Smithsonian Affiliate". Museums. Old West New West. 2008. Retrieved 15 Jul 2011.
- "George P. Horse Capture dies at 75; Native American curator". LA Times. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
- Cody Firearms Museum
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