The Buffalo Bill Center of the West has announced that its Cody Firearms Museum is about to undergo a full-scale renovation. When complete, the renovated museum will exhibit more firearms than currently on display and feature a more interpretive experience for all museum visitors.
“The transformation of the Firearms Museum promises to be extraordinary,” says Ashley Hlebinsky, the CFM’s Robert W. Woodruff Curator. “The hours and hours of interviews, research, planning, and brainstorming are leading to a stunning design—one that will engage and educate everyone from the firearms novice to collectors and researchers.”
Hlebinsky explains that the CFM renovation is set to display thousands of firearms, interpreting more than 700 years of history. When complete, the new galleries include the evolution of the firearm, military history, western history, modern shooting sports, and embellished arms. The front of the museum is dedicated to an orientation experience for people unfamiliar or newer to firearms. There, they can learn basic principles, including safety. Throughout the museum, several educational simulators are available to enhance the visitor experience. And for collectors and enthusiasts, the museum design features technical and comprehensive displays of firearms, not only arranged historically, but also by manufacturer.
“The reimagining of the Firearms Museum looks at not only how guns were used, but why they’re important to the understanding of our nation’s history,” Hlebinsky continues. “There’s no doubt that the CFM is a destination museum for gun enthusiasts, but because of the four other museums on site, we’re possibly the only gun museum in the country who receives a large number of people who are not as familiar with firearms and their histories. The ‘new’ CFM opens in June 2019; make sure to visit the museum in its original configuration and make a return trip to see the changes.”
The project has already garnered a $300,000 Sustaining Cultural Heritage Collections grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) to upgrade environmental controls and improve the CFM’s fire and security systems. In addition, the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) recently awarded the Center a Museums for America grant of $255,000 toward exhibition planning.
“Visitors are sure to appreciate the reimagined museum,” Executive Director Bruce Eldredge observes. “We’ll have improved exhibit techniques with a larger proportion of our firearms collection on view, coupled with vastly improved interpretive elements.”
“The CFM interprets the entirety of firearms history with more than 7,000 firearms created and produced by manufacturers and artisans from the 15th century through today,” Hlebinsky adds. “And we’re always adding to the collection.”
Nearly 200,000 visitors from all over the world make the Center of the West part of their vacation plans each year. Located just east of Yellowstone National Park, the CFM is part of the Center of the West’s seven-acre complex with five museums and a research library dedicated to western art and history, the greater Yellowstone ecosystem, Plains Indian cultures, and of course, Buffalo Bill. The award-winning Center of the West is accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and is a Smithsonian Affiliate.
For more information, e-mail Hlebinsky or call her at 307-578-4092.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For additional information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page.