Spirit of the West served in pair of Cheyenne Museums
When snowfalls arrive in the West, along with their accompanying cold winds, savoring a taste of western history or summer rodeo action might sound a bit difficult to pull off. Lucky for everyone within visiting distance of Cheyenne, Wyo., a pair of museums located within the town’s friendly confines serve up both items just
Old West Museum
If rodeo is your menu item of choice, a logical first stop is the Cheyenne Frontier Days Old West Museum. Located at 4610 Carey Street, next to the CFD grounds, a Paul Bunyan-sized painted boot by the front doors lets you know you’ve entered cowboy territory. Once inside its western confines, the environment is enthusiastically Cheyenne and CFD, and has been since 1978.
“I love everything about the museum,” stated Development Director, Amie Reese, answering questions inside the spacious main hall. “I love our volunteer spirit we have here. It carries over from Frontier Days to the museum. I think we’re the only place in Cheyenne that is a Cheyenne museum, so we have a history of Cheyenne as well as the Frontier Days (and our) mission spreads to incorporate the American West, as well.”
Boasting remarkable equine statues, walls of vintage CFD photography, rodeo tools of the trade, touch screen displays, and bi-annual exhibits featuring different CFD Hall of Fame members, the museum will satisfy any appetite for the rodeo lifestyle during the region’s lean winter months.
“I love our Hall of Fame exhibit,” added Reese. “We began three years ago to start introducing a bi-annual exhibit that will change through time. Each exhibit has a deep focus on a Hall of Fame member. Our first one was Chris LeDoux. The recent one was Ikua Purdy, the Hawaiian cowboy who came and took CFD in 1908.”
Rotating Hall of Fame exhibits aren’t all the CFD museum is proud to cook up for the public.
Most recently, the Old West Museum boasted a Western Folk Art Show and Festival that ended Jan. 4.
While the museum’s busiest time is summer – the other seasons offer a chance to satiate a visitor’s need for rodeo and authentic western culture.
“There are so many visitors from across the world that hear about Frontier Days but are never here during that 10-day window to experience it,” finished Reese. “We’re hoping to provide that experience, an introduction to Frontier Days, for them.”
Wyoming State Museum
If a craving for Old West history and culture is more a guest’s preference than rodeo action, the Wyoming State Museum offers a full platter of impressive exhibits in downtown Cheyenne (2301 Central Avenue). Among their display options, the state’s museum makes sure its rich western heritage is the main course.
“The mission of the Wyoming State Museum is to tell the story of Wyoming’s past from prehistoric times to the present,” said Jennifer Alexander, Supervisor of Collections. “Many of our visitors hope to learn more about the period of western expansion into and through Wyoming. We usually have exhibits in place to interpret the people and events in Wyoming at that time. These include exhibits about Native Americans, cowboys, ranchers, pioneers, etc.”
Located among those exhibits are cases holding firearms of the period so authentic you can almost smell an aroma of Old West memories.
“We have been very fortunate over the years to benefit from generous artifact donations from many individuals,” Alexander described of various revolvers, rifles, and guns presented for inspection. “The improvement and expansion of the State Museum’s firearm collection was a major focus of curators during the 1960s. They did a great job of finding representative examples of firearms in excellent condition.”
Not only are the firearms excellent, so are the displays of Native American culture and cases containing accoutrements important to the lifestyle and pioneer spirit of western settlers. After savoring all the historical morsels available in Wyoming’s state museum, visitors will be exiting the front doors wanting seconds.
“We hope our visitors will gain further understanding of the broad history of Wyoming and the many diverse people who make up that history,” said Alexander. “We hope they will gain appreciation for the different lifestyles, cultures, and craftsmanship of the people who have lived here throughout history.”
A single visit won’t do, since the Wyoming State Museum is busy cooking up more for the future.
“We charge no admission fee (and) our upcoming temporary exhibits include: Pocketbook Anthropology: a Treasure of Handbags (December 15 through January 16) and Woven Paintings by Mary Alice Huemoeller (January 22 through March 7),” summed up Alexander. “We also feature a hands-on history room for children and a museum store. We invite visitors to the Wyoming State Museum Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Saturdays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (winter hours).”
So while the winter winds blow, Cheyenne’s museums remain two of the best ways for fans of the west to appease their hunger for big summer rodeo and historical western culture. Head on out and order up a good time for you and your family … it’s always in season.
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