Preserving our Heritage
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West brings the spirit of the American West to life through the stories we tell and the objects we exhibit—objects we care for through our conservation program. The objects give visitors a glimpse into life in the West—past, present, and future—and we weave stories around them to form the tapestry of that life. Because of these objects, the stories carry the weight of authenticity, accuracy, and truth. They are the real thing, and, as such, it is our responsibility to care for them, not only for our children and grandchildren, but also for our grandchildren’s grandchildren and beyond. Our care for, and conservation of, objects doesn’t stop there: We reach beyond our walls and provide training and support to institutions throughout Wyoming and to conservation students from around the United States.
Three-fold mission of the conservation department
Conservation of the Center’s collections. Our conservator, Beverly Perkins (MA, CAS), examines, documents, treats, and performs preventive care for all the Center’s collections and helps protect the collections while on exhibit, in storage, in transit, and on loan.
Conservation of collections includes cleaning, stabilization, and restoration where necessary. Staff education is critical to successful conservation, and the conservator encourages informal staff visits and questions in addition to formal training. Perkins works with curators to ensure that treatments are accurate and proper for each collection. The collections are continuously monitored and reviewed whether on exhibit or in storage. All conservation work is performed according to the code of ethics of the American Institute for Conservation.
Training new professionals. Our conservator is committed to providing critical hands-on training to a wide range of students. Perkins trains several interns each year, including artists interested in conservation as a museum profession, university students gaining experience necessary to enroll in a conservation Master’s degree program, and advanced students already enrolled in a Master’s program. Watch the video at left to see some of our state-of-the-art equipment in action. Click here to to learn more about our Conservation Residency program.
Statewide and Regional Training and Support. Through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), the Wyoming Statewide Connecting to Collections Project was launched. Project organizers began by conducting symposia in five regions of Wyoming, and they continue to bring professionals from museums, libraries, historical societies, and other collecting institutions together to form interactive networks. Along with training at each symposium, plans were written for projects that will help alleviate problems faced by Wyoming’s collecting institutions. The Center’s grants administrator and conservator continue to seek funding to carry out these projects.
The conservator also provides pro bono conservation services for collecting institutions in the underserved mountain-plains region of the United States.