Buffalo Bill Center of the West – Part I

I have had several friends talk about this museum so it was high on our list, but because of the three hour drive we weren’t sure how we could make that work with the dog. Finally we learned from some folks Lee works with that there is a reasonably priced doggie day care in Cody so on Sunday we headed over. Because the dogs had to be brought in by 8:30am that meant a 4:30am wake up time for us. To be honest driving through Yellowstone in the dark and heavy fog wasn’t that great but we made it in time to drop off Jack and head to the museum.

It’s actually five museums in one massive set of buildings and since we weren’t sure how long it would take we visited them in order of our level of interest. Since I took over 900 pictures on this day I am going to divide the visit into a few posts. Lee picked the Cody Firearms Museum first so that’s where we started.

To be clear, Lee and I both support reasonable gun control, but we also find the history and engineering of guns pretty fascinating. This collection has over 7000 guns and was really spectacularly done. In particular I appreciated that the rhetoric is pretty balanced and the facts were presented with the focus being on the guns themselves. Overall I thought it was an excellent museum.

The museum was a bit of a maze and its easy to get lost but one of my favorite sections was where they showed the different guns (with examples) through history in a nice long timeline.

I also really liked the gun library that had so many guns grouped alphabetically by manufacturer or by military. They were in these big sliding drawers and it was a cool way to see guns by lesser known manufacturers. Lee was amazed by this library and counted the vertical sliding cabinets and determined that there were over 1000 long guns just in this one section.

I also enjoyed several of the unusual historical guns many of which were owned by past presidents or other famous people. You could spend an entire day going through this collection, but since we had other museums to see mainly hit the highlights.

I was also particularly interested in some advertising posters they had including one which marketed to women for self defense much earlier than I would have thought. Also the poster that talked about a gun being a months salary. You think of guns being somewhat ubiquitous in the west based on the movies but a months salary is no joke.

My choice was next and I chose the Draper Natural History museum. I have been to many natural history museums and this one (for its size) was really well done. First off you were on a path the entire time so it was easier to see everything and they had lighting and sound effects that made you feel like you were in nature. It was extremely well done and I enjoyed every minute of it.

Of the five museums this was definitely my favorite for both the content and the environment. So if you don’t have time to see them all I would definitely put this at the top of your list.

The research center was really cool in particular the golden eagle information. I have actually never seen a golden eagle but later that day when we were driving outside of town I saw my first one. There was also another research library in the basement which had all sorts of historical documents about the area. The gun museum also provides historical research information and authentication services which is pretty cool.

Ok I am going to stop right there and pick up in the next post. Stay tuned!

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