Mission

The Mission of the Center of the West

The mission of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West: Through our ideas, collections, and programs, we educate and entertain worldwide audiences about the past, present, and future of the American West.

Our Credo

cre-do: derived from 12th century Middle English, from Latin, “I believe”; a set of fundamental beliefs; a guiding principle.

On January 29, 2010, the Trustees of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West unanimously adopted a “Spirit of the American West” credo. This powerful, formal statement of shared belief commits the Center to a goal of keeping—in the fullest sense of the word—the Spirit of the American West.

Our credo is our vow to communicate a vision that reaches beyond the treasures in our vaults. It reaffirms our commitment to preserving the spirit of the American West through our collections, programs, exhibitions, and scholarship. It guides all that we do and all that we plan, as well as, how we think about ourselves and how we present ourselves to others.

As such, we hope our credo will inspire people to become connected with us in ways they haven’t been able to before. It is our unifying force and lets the world know what we stand for and what we do.


Key pillars of our credo

We believe in a spirit, definable and intellectually real, called the Spirit of the American West.

We believe the Spirit of the American West is central to American Democracy and is an iconic image of freedom worldwide.

We rededicate ourselves—through our collections, our educational programs, our interpretation, and our determination—to keeping this spirit vibrant for visitors, real and virtual, worldwide.


The full text of our credo

We believe in a spirit, definable and intellectually real, called “the Spirit of the American West.

We believe the Spirit of the American West is central to American Democracy and an iconic image of freedom worldwide.

We believe the Spirit of the American West is, tragically, not eternal; it can wither and die.

We believe the Spirit of the American West was first forged by nature as it created magnificent landscapes and abundant wildlife—a vastness where pioneer forefathers and mothers, and Native Americans joined in a moment of history, originally interpreted and mythologized by people such as William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody.

We believe the Spirit of the American West is the spirit of optimism itself, defined, and replenished by exploration, invention, and expanded environmental awareness; Western art and Native American culture; the history and craftsmanship of firearms; and an ethos of hardy individualism facing frontiers of all kinds.

We believe the Spirit of the American West lives at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West because generations of Americans saved, funded, taught, studied, authored, interpreted, recorded, performed, danced, conserved, painted, sculpted, collected, filmed, exhibited, and fought for this heritage in Cody, Wyoming.

We believe the Spirit of the American West, absent this dedication, can die in one or two generations of corrosive modern, mass indifference that creates an undeniable loss of classical minimum standards of learning in American history, art, and science, with huge consequences.

We believe the Spirit of the American West dies each day in the distracted face of a youth, alone, probably indoors, immersed in a globalized, saturated media environment of “self and cell,”—a situation that leads us to a high-powered, contemporary determination to keep the Spirit of the American West alive and relevant for him and her.

Thom Ross's 'Buffalo Bill Performing,' 2.07.2

Thom Ross (b. 1953). ‘Buffalo Bill Cody Performing,’ 2006. Acrylic on canvas. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming. Museum purchase. 2.07.2

Above all, we believe the Spirit of the American West thrives in Cody, Wyoming, and the Greater Yellowstone region where we rededicate ourselves—through our collections, our educational programs, our interpretation and determination—to keeping this spirit vibrant for visitors, real and virtual, at home and worldwide, today and for generations to come.

Finally . . .

We believe we can succeed in this charge to keep, in the fullest sense of the word, the Spirit of the American West.