Buffalo Bill Center of the West

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West, formerly known as the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, is a complex of five museums and a research library featuring art and artifacts of the American West located in Cody, Wyoming. The five museums include the Buffalo Bill Museum, the Plains Indians Museum, the Whitney Western Art Museum, the Draper Natural History Museum, and the Cody Firearms Museum. Founded in 1917 by Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney to preserve the legacy and vision of Col. William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West is the oldest and most comprehensive museum complex of the West.[1] It has been described by The New York Times as "among the nation's most remarkable museums."[2]

Buffalo Bill Center of the West
Cody-Buffalo Bill Center of the West 11-09-2014 17-51-32
Location720 Sheridan Avenue
Cody, Wyoming,
United States
Coordinates44°31′30″N 109°04′23″W / 44.525055°N 109.073135°WCoordinates: 44°31′30″N 109°04′23″W / 44.525055°N 109.073135°W
TypeAmerican West museums
FounderCornelius Vanderbilt Whitney


The complex can be traced to 1917, when the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association was established after the death of William F. Cody, the original Buffalo Bill. Gradually other elements were added to what started as a historical center. The current seven-acre building has more than 50,000 artifacts and holds five museums.[2]

Since 2008, the Center of the West has been part of the Smithsonian Affiliates program, the first museum complex in Wyoming to have this status.[3] As an Affiliate, the Center of the West has hosted Smithsonian artifacts. It has also recently loaned some of its own vast collections to a Smithsonian exhibition in Washington, D.C.

The museums of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West are connected 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, which highlights Western ephemera and historic objects in telling the life story of W. F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody.[2] Edward Rothstein of the New York Times wrote,

The exhibition [on Buffalo Bill] affirms what the center as a whole demonstrates: that behind the mythologizing is something worth cherishing, even if it is flawed, complex and still evolving. The old impulse to demolish the myth has been put aside.[2]

Buffalo Bill Museum

Debuting in summer 2012, the Buffalo Bill Museum has been reconceived to present a 21st-century experience for its visitors. The inaugural museum opened in 1927 in a log cabin across from the current location. It was reinstalled in 1986, and it is now part of a five-museum complex. The Buffalo Bill Museum offers a wide-ranging view of the life and times of William F. Cody, as well as of the "Buffalo Bill" character he created, 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 showcases the fame and success Cody attained through his "Buffalo Bill's Wild West show," and addresses his significant influence on the economic and cultural development of the American West. The exhibits also reveal an intimate portrait of this major American figure - his personal successes and failures, as well as his 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.[4] The majority of the collection is from the early reservation period, ca. 1880-1930. It contains artifacts primarily from 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 Center of the West acquired the Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection, recognized as the most historic, important, and privately held collection in the world of Plains Indian artifacts, art work, and related materials. 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 an annual Powwow held on the third weekend in June at the Robbie Powwow Garden at the Center of the West. This event attracts dancers, artisans, and visitors from all over North America.

Whitney Western Art Museum

The Whitney Western Art Museum features paintings and sculptures of the American West. The gallery first opened in 1959 and was later united with the Buffalo Bill Museum.

In June 2009, it re-opened following a re-installation. The gallery is organized thematically, with spaces dedicated to heroes and legends, the heroic cowboy, wildlife, horses 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. Included are works by other classic Western artists: 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. 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.

Draper Natural History Museum

The Draper Natural History Museum 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. Specimens of grizzlies, wolves, bighorn sheep, moose, elk and other wildlife are on display. The Draper Natural History Museum opened to the public on June 4, 2002 and bears the name of Nancy Carroll-Draper, a trustee and benefactor of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. The Draper museum includes adult and children's classrooms and the John Bunker Sands Photography Gallery. The renovation and expansion was designed by Curtis W. Fentress.

Cody Firearms Museum

Cody Firearms Museum
Cody Firearms Museum within the Buffalo Bill Center of the West

The Cody Firearms Museum houses the most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world.[5] The collection includes firearms ranging from a 16th-century hand cannon to guns of modern manufacture. It holds weapons 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.[5] Visitors 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.

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 Harold McCracken, writer, artist, and developer of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, the library supports "inquiry across many disciplines related to the American West."[6] The library has strong collections relating to Buffalo Bill, the Wild West show, Plains Indians, cattle and "dude" 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 foremost among the library's holdings. Researchers and the public are welcome to visit the library by appointment.


In 2012 the Center won the National Tour Association's Award for "favorite museum for groups."[7]


  1. ^ "Buffalo Bill Center of the West". Affiliate Detail. Smithsonian Affiliates. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. Retrieved 15 Jul 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d Edward Rothstein, "At the Buffalo Bill Museum, a Showdown Between History and Myth", New York Times, 3 August 2012, accessed 6 April 2014
  3. ^ "Buffalo Bill Historical Center Now a Smithsonian Affiliate". Old West New West. 2008. Retrieved 15 Jul 2011.
  4. ^ "George P. Horse Capture dies at 75; Native American curator". LA Times. Retrieved 6 May 2013.
  5. ^ a b Cody Firearms Museum Archived October 23, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ http://www.bbhc.org/research/mccracken-research-library/
  7. ^ "Buffalo Bill Center of the West" Archived April 7, 2014, at the Wayback Machine, Wyoming Tourism, accessed 6 April 2014

External links

Media related to Buffalo Bill Center of the West at Wikimedia Commons

Bear Dance

Bear Dance is a Native American ceremonial dance that occurs in the spring. It is a ten-day event to strengthen social ties within the community, encourage courtship, and mark the end of puberty for girls.For the Utes, it is a ten-day event of dancing, feasting, games, horse racing, and gambling. It is one of the oldest Ute ceremonies. The bear symbolizes leadership, strength, and wisdom. A group of men have played musical rasps for the dance.

Bierstadt Lake

Bierstadt Lake is located in Larimer County, Colorado and within the Rocky Mountain National Park. Near McHenrys Peak and Longs Peak, there are "spectacular views" of the Continental Divide at the lake. The Bierstadt Lake Trailhead is located about 6.5 miles (10.5 km) from the turn-off at U.S. Route 36 into the Rocky Mountain National Park. During the summer, shuttle buses provide transportation to the trailhead.The lake sits atop a lateral moraine on the side and end of Bartholf Glacier and drains into Mill Creek. It is named for Albert Bierstadt, a noted landscape artist, whose 1870s paintings of Longs Peak and Bierstadt Lake are among the Denver Art Museum's collection.

Buffalo Bill

William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody (February 26, 1846 – January 10, 1917) was an American scout, bison hunter, and showman. He was born in Le Claire, Iowa Territory (now the U.S. state of Iowa), but he lived for several years in his father's hometown in Toronto Township, Ontario, Canada, before the family returned to the Midwest and settled in the Kansas Territory.

Buffalo Bill started working at the age of eleven, after his father's death, and became a rider for the Pony Express at age 14. During the American Civil War, he served the Union from 1863 to the end of the war in 1865. Later he served as a civilian scout for the US Army during the Indian Wars, receiving the Medal of Honor in 1872.

One of the most colorful figures of the American Old West, Buffalo Bill's legend began to spread when he was only twenty-three. Shortly thereafter he started performing in shows that displayed cowboy themes and episodes from the frontier and Indian Wars. He founded Buffalo Bill's Wild West in 1883, taking his large company on tours in the United States and, beginning in 1887, in Great Britain and continental Europe.

Charles Marion Russell

Charles Marion Russell (March 19, 1864 – October 24, 1926), also known as C. M. Russell, Charlie Russell, and "Kid" Russell, was an American artist of the Old American West. Russell created more than 2,000 paintings of cowboys, Indians, and landscapes set in the Western United States and in Alberta, Canada, in addition to bronze sculptures. Known as 'the cowboy artist', Russell was also a storyteller and author. He became an advocate for Native Americans in the West, for instance supporting the bid by landless Chippewa to have a reservation established for them in Montana. In 1916 Congress passed legislation to create such a reservation, now known as the Rocky Boy Reservation.

The C. M. Russell Museum Complex, located in Great Falls, Montana, houses more than 2,000 Russell artworks, personal objects, and artifacts. Other major collections are held at the Montana Historical Society in Helena, Montana, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas, and the Sid Richardson Museum, also in Fort Worth.

Russell's mural titled Lewis and Clark Meeting the Flathead Indians hangs in the state capitol building in Helena. Russell's 1918 painting Piegans sold for $5.6 million at a 2005 auction.

Cody, Wyoming

Cody is a city in Northwest Wyoming and the county seat of Park County, Wyoming, United States. It is named after Colonel William Frederick "Buffalo Bill" Cody for his part in the founding of Cody in 1896.The population was 9,520 at the 2010 census. Cody is served by Yellowstone Regional Airport.


Driggs-Seabury Ordnance Company was founded in 1897 by William H. Driggs and Samuel Seabury, both US Navy officers, in partnership with Louis Labodie Driggs, originally to produce guns for the US Army and US Navy designed by the partners. After a few reorganizations and an entry into the motor vehicle market, the company dissolved in 1925.

Fully feathered basket

A fully feathered basket is a type of basket crafted by a select group of indigenous people of California who have traditionally resided in the coastal region of Northern California above San Francisco. These baskets are uniquely distinguished from other types of baskets in that the outside of the basket is entirely covered with a matted layer of feathers. They are highly collectible and renowned for their fine craftsmanship.

Harry Jackson (artist)

Harry Andrew Jackson (April 18, 1924 – April 25, 2011), born Harry Aaron Shapiro Jr., was an American artist. He began his career as a Marine combat artist, then later worked in the abstract expressionist, realist, and American western styles.

Indian Maiden and Fawn

Indian Maiden and Fawn is a 1917–1924 sculpture by Alexander Phimister Proctor.

James Prosek

James Prosek (born May 23, 1975) is an American artist, writer and naturalist. He was born in Connecticut and grew up in the town of Easton, CT where he still lives. His father was born in Santos, Brazil and his mother in Prague, Czechoslovakia. He is a 1997 graduate of Yale University.Prosek published his first book in 1996 while studying at Yale. Trout: An Illustrated History included watercolors of seventy species, subspecies, and strains of trout in North America. With the publication of Trout, the first book of its kind, Prosek became widely recognized as having brought attention to the existence and plight of native trout, leading to widespread conservation efforts. A year later, in 1997, he published his second book, Joe and Me: An Education in Fishing and Friendship. His second trout book, Trout of the World, published in 2003, is a collection of one hundred watercolors of native trout from Europe, Asia and North Africa (updated and expanded in 2013, Abrams).Since those early documentary works Prosek’s art has become more conceptual, engaging in questions of how we name, systematize and order nature. His art has been featured in exhibitions at The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Smithsonian American Art Museum, The Addison Gallery of American Art, North Carolina Museum of Art, the New Britain Museum of American Art, The Yale Center for British Art, The Royal Academy of Arts in London, The Buffalo Bill Center of the West, and The National Academy of Sciences among other institutions. His first solo museum exhibition, Life & Death - A Visual Taxonomy, was at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, CT in 2007.He has been an artist-in-residence at numerous institutions including the Yale University Art Gallery, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum and the Addison Gallery of American Art.

In 2002, Prosek won a Peabody Award for his documentary on 17th-century author and angler Izaak Walton and his book The Compleat Angler. As an undergraduate at Yale University he majored in English Literature, and was a member of Manuscript Society. Of his second book Joe and Me his teacher, the literary critic Harold Bloom, wrote “Prosek is a writer at once artful and natural, an original in literature even as he is in painting.”In 2004 Prosek co-founded a conservation initiative with Patagonia founder Yvon Chouinard called "World Trout" which raises money for coldwater habitat conservation.Since the start of the program in 2005, the World Trout Initiative has given $2 million to over 200 fish conservation groups.Prosek is the author of eleven books for both adults and children, including Ocean Fishes (Rizzoli, 2012) and The Day My Mother Left (Simon & Schuster, 2006). He has written for the New York Times and National Geographic Magazine.His book, Eels: An Exploration, From New Zealand to the Sargasso, of the World's Most Mysterious Fish, was released by HarperCollins in September 2011 and was a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice. The book was adapted as a documentary for the PBS series "Nature" that aired in 2013.

Joe Ricketts

John Joseph Ricketts (born July 16, 1941) is an American businessman and philanthropist. He is the founder, former CEO and former chairman of TD Ameritrade. He has a net worth of US$2.1 billion as of 2017 according to Forbes. He has pursued a variety of other entrepreneurial ventures including DNAinfo.com, High Plains Bison, The Lodge at Jackson Fork, and The American Film Company. Ricketts also engages in philanthropy through The Ricketts Art Foundation, Opportunity Education Foundation, The Cloisters on the Platte Foundation, and The Ricketts Conservation Foundation.

Louisa Frederici

Louisa Maud Frederici (1843–1921) was the wife of William F. "Buffalo Bill" Cody. She married on March 6, 1866 in St. Louis, Missouri and remained in a rocky relationship for 51 years until Cody's death in 1917. The couple had met when Cody traveled to St. Louis due to his Union Army duties at the close of the Civil War. The wedding was swift and took place shortly after their interactions in 1865, with Cody taking time out from scouting and horse-driving to marry Louisa. Louisa, often referred to as "Lulu" by her husband, was a proud woman who would not simply grant Cody a divorce in 1904, which led to trial in 1905. The case was given in Louisa's favor after a judge deemed "incompatibility was not a grounds for divorce."Louisa and Cody had 4 children: Arta Lucille (1866 – 1904), Kit Carson (1870 – 1876), Orra Maude (1872 – 1883), and Irma Louise (1883 – 1918). Louisa would outlive all of her children, with Arta dying shortly before the proceedings of the divorce. Louisa and the children lived separate from Cody as he traveled. Remaining in North Platte, Nebraska, Louisa purchased most of the family's property in her own name. She did this in hopes that if Cody hit a spell of bad financial luck, which he often did, she would be able to provide him with a small fortune. Detailing her life and issues with her husband, Louisa's Memories of Buffalo Bill (c. 1923) shows her devotion to her husband, regardless of his alleged relationships with actresses and women in the Wild West shows.Louisa loved to sew and often sewed her husband's and children's clothes; this was a result of her training in a convent as a young girl. Noted as always being practical, Louisa is noted by Lottie Kocken (a girl who was part of the Buffalo Bill Excursion in 1878) as being upset when Cody would send her a large bouquet of flowers because "she needed the money more than flowers." Jessie Blackenburg Renyolds also remembered Louisa, commenting that "Willie just couldn't hold onto money, for he was a grand spender, and she has to fix it so he couldn't mortgage everything." When Kit Carson died in 1868, that was believed to have been the final straw for Cody, who was wanting to spend his money and gain the affections of any woman but his wife. Cody filed two divorce petitions, with one newspaper claiming that the cause behind them was Louisa's "nagging." The first filing of divorce was withdrawn due to the death of Orra Cody in 1883. The second went to trial in Cheyenne, Wyoming, in 1905, flooding headlines and tearing communities into the crossfire and demanding they pick sides.

While the divorce scandal raged on between the two in the courtroom and in the papers, Louisa continued to maintain the house and her living children. When asked to put the suit on hold temporarily in order to attend the funeral of Arta, Louisa refused, demanding that she remain married and the suit be dropped. On March 23, 1905, the district court of Sheridan did not grant Cody his divorce. Louisa then paid her real estate taxes in Lincoln County, Missouri on 1,200 acres of land and numerous houses assessed under her name and on 700 acres that had been in Cody's name; the result was more than $600, making her one of the largest tax payers in the county. Louisa and Cody reconciled in 1910 and she often attended his Wild West Shows until his death in 1917. Louisa died in 1921, and was buried with her husband on Lookout Mountain.

Mark Soldier Wolf

Mark Soldier Wolf is a Arapaho Tribal Elder who served in the US Marine Corps during the Korean War. He is a story teller.

Soldier Wolf's grandmother was war chief Pretty Nose who participated in the Battle of Little Big Horn in 1876. She witnessed his return to the Wind River Indian Reservation in 1952, at the age of 101.

Nick Eggenhofer

Nick Eggenhofer (December 5, 1897 - March 7, 1985) was a German-born American painter, illustrator and sculptor of the American West. He was the author of two books.

Recoil (magazine)

Recoil is a magazine covering handguns, tactical rifles, tactical knives and other shooting-related activities in the United States. It claims to cater to the "firearms lifestyle".The magazine primarily offers reviews on firearms, ammunition, knives, and shooting gear; as well as gunsmithing tips, historical articles, gun collecting, self-defense and automobiles. Each issue contains a few featured articles and personality profiles of people in the firearms industry as well as press releases of new products. Each issue includes a fold-out target.Susannah Breslin of Forbes wrote that,"RECOIL is more Maxim than your dad's Guns & Ammo" with regard to the magazine's photography and subject matter.RECOIL debuted in January 2012 as a quarterly magazine and by December 2012 became bi-monthly.Iain Harrison became editor in January 2013.In 2015 RECOIL won “Best Outdoor Sports & Recreation Magazine” at the 64th Annual Western Publishing Association "Maggie Awards" for its July issue.

Roy Bean

Phantly Roy Bean, Jr. (c. 1825 – March 16, 1903) was an eccentric American saloon-keeper and Justice of the Peace in Val Verde County, Texas, who called himself "The Law West of the Pecos". According to legend, he held court in his saloon along the Rio Grande on a desolate stretch of the Chihuahuan Desert of southwest Texas. After his death, Western films and books cast him as a hanging judge, although he is known to have sentenced only two men to hang, one of whom escaped.

Scott Court

Scott B. Court is an American politician and a Republican member of the Wyoming House of Representatives representing District 24 since January 10, 2017.

Slater family

The Slater family is an American philanthropic, political, and manufacturing family from England, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and Connecticut whose members include the "Father of the American Industrial Revolution," Samuel Slater, a prominent textile tycoon who founded America's first textile mill, Slater Mill (1790), and with his brother John Slater founded Slatersville, Rhode Island in North Smithfield, Rhode Island in 1803, America's first planned mill village. The family includes various merchants, inventors, art patrons, and socialites. John Fox Slater, was a prominent abolitionist who founded the Slater Fund and built the historic John F. Slater House and Slater Library. William A. Slater was a noted art collector and philanthropist who created the Slater Memorial Museum in Connecticut. After moving many of their mills to the South from New England, the village of Slater-Marietta, South Carolina was named after the family.

Texas Jack Omohundro

John Baker Omohundro (July 26, 1846 – June 28, 1880), also known as "Texas Jack," was an American frontier scout, actor, and cowboy. Born in rural Virginia he served in the Confederacy during the American Civil War and later as a civilian scout for the US Army during the Indian Wars.

Before his untimely death, Texas Jack became a legendary figure in the American Old West as a western showman performing dramas on the stage throughout the country, and was immortalized in dime novels published around the world.

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