It feels good to be a winner, and a lot of people involved with our very own Buffalo Bill Center of the West are feeling purty goshdern good today. (Read on to see why I’m suddenly reverting to my cowgirl vernacular.)
Buffalo Bill Center of the West was just named the Top Western Museum for 2015 by True West magazine, which as many of you know is a top-notch magazine covering the authentic West. I got a sneak peek at the upcoming September issue of the magazine, which highlights the Buffalo Bill Museum’s “Man of the West, Man of the World: The Life and Legacy of William F. Buffalo Bill.’”
Yes, yes, I know. As my mama always said, “Lettin’ the cat outta the bag is a whole lot easier than puttin’ it back,” but I’m so tickled that the Center of the West topped the list that I couldn’t keep it to myself. I hope the fine writers at True West magazine won’t be too ticked at me, and if all of you buy a copy of the magazine, maybe they won’t be. Look for the magazine cover that says “Buffalo Bill Center of the West Wins it All” at the top of the page.
The story highlights our larger than life founder and my personal hero as well as the four other museums under the Buffalo Bill Center of the West roof – the Whitney Western Art Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Draper Museum of Natural History and Plains Indian Museum. My favorite sentence in the story, and one that certainly rings true for this frequent BBCW visit, is: “It is no exaggeration to say you can spend days in the Center of the West and not see everything.” If I earned frequent visitor miles for all the time I spent at the museum, I’d fly around the world. Again.
The good news about museums in Buffalo Bill’s Yellowstone/Cody gets even better, though. The Whitney Western Art Museum was named one of the top art museums in the West in the same magazine edition. In that story, the magazine noted that “this perennial favorite is always tops” and is “home to one of the world’s most extensive collections of art depicting the spirit, wildlife, people and land of the West.”
And there was some really wonderful news from the WW II Heart Mountain Interpretive Center this month too. This thought-provoking museum has acquired an original Heart Mountain barrack that once was used to confine Japanese-Americans during World War II. Most of the original barracks were dismantled, split in half or modified to create houses or farm outbuildings, and many were sold to homesteaders for $1 each. So it is a great opportunity to restore and preserve a truly important – and sobering – piece of our American history. The catch is that the barrack has to be moved from Greybull, Wyo. where it was being used as a university research station to the Heart Mountain site. And that will cost about $140,000, which the center is raising through donations. (I bought a used square nail and a Heart Mountain T-shirt for $50.) Pretty soon, though, we’re going to have yet another authentic symbol of our true Western past.
The Louvre has nothing on Cody! (Except the Mona Lisa, and I hear that painting is pretty small. Not at all like our larger-than-life town founder.)
I hope you’ll join me in congratulating and supporting our wonderful Western museums.
Until next time, I’m lovin’ life and gloating in the winner’s circle.