Children visit the Seasons of Life Gallery of the Plains Indian Museum.

BBHC photo by Sean Campbell

Five Museums Under One Roof

Itís not unusual to see dazed-looking visitors on the benches outside the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. The experience of touring five distinct museums in one day can be as overwhelming as it is satisfying.

The Whitney Gallery of Western Art, dedicated in 1959, houses paintings and sculpture that capture the sweep of Western history, including masterworks by Thomas Moran, Frederic Remington and Charles Russell. Of particular note is Edgar Paxsonís monumental 1899 painting, Custerís Last Stand.

The Buffalo Bill Museum celebrates the life and legend of the man who epitomized the West. It features vintage posters advertising Buffalo Billís Wild West, nearly century-old film footage of the show, his signature jacket and gifts presented to him by European royalty.

The Plains Indian Museum captures the stories, art and traditions of the diverse peoples of the Great Plains. The Buffalo and the People gallery highlights the importance of the bison to American Indians. Other galleries include Adversity and Renewal, Honor and Celebration, Cheyenne Migration and Land of Many Gifts.

The Cody Firearms Museum is fascinating for gun enthusiasts and those interested in firearms history. The museumís basis is the former Winchester corporate collection, but its 6,000 items include everything from muzzle-loading rifles mountain men used to a set of Remington handguns that belonged to Czar Nicholas. One of the treasures on view in the Colt: Legacy of a Legend exhibit is made entirely of wood ó a prototype of the modern revolver Samuel Colt carved while aboard a ship in the 1830s. (This piece was on loan from another museum.)

The Draper Museum of Natural History is the newest of the centerís museums. Through exhibits such as Greater Yellowstone Adventure, spread across three interconnected galleries, the Draper displays the natural history of Yellowstone country. In addition to a marvelous mosaic of the Big Horn Basin area of northwest Wyoming, extensive displays use sound, lighting and ďplease touchĒ exhibits to highlight the regionís geology and wildlife. ó K.M.

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