The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is located in Cody, Wyoming. The center offers visitors a wide variety of events and exhibitions. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West began as Mary Jester Allen’s dream of national memorial and shrine for to William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody and the early American West pioneers.
In 1927, Allen began to realize her dream as the curator of the Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming. The present-day center incorporates a research library, five museums, an educational outreach program, and professional website.
Because of Buffalo Bill Cody’s love of drama, adventure, change, travel, complexity, challenge, and being the center of attention the development of the Center puts him center stage. If it were not of for Buffalo Bill’s fame and life the center never would have been developed.
Though the idea for the Buffalo Bill Center of the West came about in 1917, it took seven years for the bronze monument to be thought of and dedicated to him in Cody, Wyoming, which was his hometown. Ten years after that, the Buffalo Bill Museum was constructed.
The Buffalo Bill Museum and the Gertrude Vanderbilt bronze monument served to commemorate William F “Buffalo Bill” Cody for thirty years before a second museum was built. The other museums, and the research library followed. These became the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.
The Museums and Library
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West encompasses five museums.
Buffalo Bill Museum- This museum features the life and experiences of Buffalo Bill Cody. The story of the man’s life is told in the context of myth and history in the American West. The museum explores how Buffalo Bill became the world’s first major educator about the promise, lasting spirit, and history of the American West. The collection in the museum also examines the history of dude ranching, American cowboy, frontier entrepreneurship, western conservation, and the perceptions people have the West.
Cody Firearms Museum- The most complete assemblage of firearms from America is housed here. Those interested in collecting guns can use the Cody Firearms Museum Records Office to obtain information about which firearms were manufactured by Winchester, LC Smith, and Marlin.
Draper Natural History Museum- The museum explores the ecology of the Greater Yellowstone and it’s natural history. The museum runs web pages and blogs including the Fieldnotes from the edge of Yellowstone and Draper Museum Raptor Experience.
Plains Indian Museum- This museum explores the live of Plains Indians, their cultures, values, traditions, and histories. The context of the lives of Plains Indians today is also explored. Visitors can study the art and objects made by the Plains Indians and learn their stories and how the objects were used in ceremonial and daily life.
The Whitney Western Art Museum- Visitors to this museum get to experience the Spirit of the American West through art. By viewing the art of the west, visitors are inspired to make connections that span time and culture. The prints, sculptures, and paintings give a broad view of the West. The museum also has collections online for those who can’t physically be at the museum.
McCracken Research Library- The library supports research spanning several different disciplines that are related to the Wild West. It contains collections of historic photos, original manuscripts, and rare books. The library began to digitize it’s collections in the recent past. It has contributed twenty thousand images to Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s website. The digitization of these images has allowed visitors to view the photo collections, digital documents, engage in research, and order reproductions of these images.
The Buffalo Bill Center for the West offers several educational opportunities.
Plains Indian Map Project- This project fuses educational interpretation and scholarship. It represents two hundred and thirty years of movement over the Plains within over forty-five different cultures. It is an animated timeline that includes territorial, reservation, treaty, and state boundary areas.
Summer Programs- Different summer programs are offered for children of all ages to explore the American West.
Play Area- Children visiting the center will find several interactive activities in the museums that teach about the American West.
Draper Museum Raptor Experience- Learn about the Raptors of the West.
School Field Trips, Outreaches, and Resources/Skype- Field trips to the Center can be scheduled. If a class can’t make it to the center, Skype partners with the center to bring knowledge of fur trappers, Plains Indian culture, and animals and their adaptations to the classroom.
Lectures- Lectures are offered regularly on topics related to the West.
720 Sheridan Avenue, Cody, Wyoming 82414, Phone: 307-587-4771
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