The Buffalo Bill Center of the West is home to five museums under one roof−there are endless activities, hands-on experiences, and opportunities for people of all ages to learn something new. Whether it’s Ron Reed capturing the spirit of the American West with his chuckwagon cooking demonstrations, or Melissa Hill showing the majestic live birds during the Raptor Experience, there is something to interest every visitor.
So what could be missing?
On Monday, July 11, the construction of a new, American West-themed playground begins. The site for the play area is located outside of the Kuyper Dining Pavilion. As a result, parents can enjoy a snack or meal on the patio, while they watch their children play. The new playground honors cherished community member, Tami Collier, who passed away last summer.
Gretchen Henrich, the Center’s Director of the Interpretive Education Division, notes, “Our outdoor playground allows children to learn about the West not just by passively observing, but actually doing.” She adds, “The playground also allows local children, as well as those who have been traveling, to let off some steam.”
The new play area gives children the opportunity to learn about the ways of the American West while simultaneously being active—a rarity in most museums.
About a year ago, the Center encouraged children to draw pictures representing their ideal play area, and we received over thirty submissions! After a lot of brainstorming and hard work, a sketch of the playground was created. Just a few of the playground features include overhead rings, a wiggly bridge, and a cargo net—along with some unique western elements such as a sheep wagon, a western landscape mural, and a mountain climbing feature.
Gail Construction plans to complete the bulk of the building; however, the company Playgrounds by Leathers—a nationally recognized organization with more than forty years of experience building custom playgrounds, zoos, science centers, and community gathering places—oversees the creation of the Center’s new play area. In fact, according to their company website, Playgrounds by Leathers has already opened some 3,000 playgrounds all around the world!
Additionally, the Center of the West welcomes any interested community volunteers to assist with the project July 13−15. Volunteers can help with tasks such as placing screws in deck boards, painting, and staining. Individuals who would like more information are encouraged to contact Gretchen Henrich at [email protected] or call her at 307-578-4061.
The playground is expected to be complete and ready for play at the beginning of August. Don’t forget to mark your calendars for July 13−15 to be a part of creating a wonderful experience for kids—we look forward to seeing you there!