Originally published in Points West magazine
Long-Awaited CFM Reload is within Our Sights
Editor’s Note: Wow! It’s hard to believe the Center of the West’s new, completely redesigned Cody Firearms Museum opened more than a year ago now. Here’s a fun look back at the exciting final stages of the renovation.
By Ashley Hlebinsky, Curator Emerita & Senior Firearms Scholar
The Cody Firearms Museum (CFM) staff, advisory board, and donors are excited to show the public the renovated museum. This project has been a long time in the making. Construction began on the museum last summer, but the planning, designing, fundraising, and organizing have been underway for many years.
As you walk into the hallway leading to the Cody Firearms Museum, a large graphic panel welcomes you and reads:
The Cody Firearms Museum interprets over 800 years of history with more than 10,000 objects in 40,000 square feet. This museum invites you to learn about the many ways people have used firearms throughout history in times of both war and peace. Please use what you see here as a foundation to spark your own research and further discussion beyond these walls.
Thousands of visitors come through the CFM annually. They range from gun enthusiasts and collectors to people who know very little about firearms. As a result, the new CFM seeks to engage with all visitors. For novices, the CFM discusses firearms history, teaches safety, allows them to experience “hands-on history,” and learn not only about technology, but also how cultures and societies have changed because of firearms.
The museum’s main level combines traditional firearms display with conversations about the people associated with firearms history from early monarchs to modern athletes. The CFM main level is divided into the following galleries: introduction to firearms, modern shooting sports, evolution of the firearm, military history, firearms of the west, science of firearms, art of firearms, and a rotating exhibit space. It also features four firearms simulators including a pistol steel challenge, as well as a Browning 2 machine gun, a long-range rifle, and a shotgun. Additionally, throughout the galleries, visitors can find several series of mechanical and media-interactives and video to supplement the exhibit.
The CFM’s lower level is dedicated to those with a collector or research level of interest. At the base of the spiral staircase is an exhibit on early patents and prototypes which leads into a gun library with more than two thousand firearms and in excess of ten thousand rounds of ammunition. A video about the art of collecting plays in the space next to a firearms research room, a space available by appointment only to outside researchers and our staff to examine and photograph firearms and archival materials from the collection.
Our goal for the reimagined Cody Firearms Museum is to factually share and interpret the collection and its stories in light of the way the guns were used—whether for good, for ill, or simply indifferent. In so doing, we strive to become the authority on the public education and history of firearms as well as the location for academic firearms research and scholarship into the future.
Take a preview tour of the space here, and then make plans to see it “up close and personal.” We look forward to seeing you!
The CFM Reloads
In this article from May 2019 as the renovation neared its completion, Ashley Hlebinsky, the Robert W. Woodruff Curator of the Cody Firearms Museum [now Curator Emerita & Senior Firearms Scholar], and Assistant Curator Danny Michael [now Associate Curator] shared the progress on the #NewCFM and invited readers to come for a visit!
Collection + Stories
A distinctly American genre, Hollywood is always happy to produce a good western for TV or movie—stories that often affect how we view the American West. Below, Ashley and Danny help to decide how to display CFM’s firearms unique to such classic western icons as the Cartwrights of Bonanza and Paladin of Have Gun Will Travel.
The Exhibition Crew shines acres of glass in the new Cody Firearms Museum. The cases are larger to accommodate more firearms and with more glass to create better viewing for our visitors.
Illusion of More Space
As of this writing [May 2019], the new Cody Firearms Museum has almost all the finishing touches in place (paint, carpet, cases, and a new stairway) and is now ready to add the firearms and other collections objects. The Exhibition Crew and CFM Staff planned a “soft opening” in early June with the Grand Opening to follow on July 6, 2019.
Look for Old Favorites
Curator Ashley Hlebinsky ably “supports” the Winchester Repeating Arms Co. factory lintel, and Curator Ashley and Assistant Curator Danny Michael stand in front of the factory and the log cabin in the background from the last Cody Firearms Museum iteration.
And Exciting New Displays
The “pink room” is sure to highlight the nuances in the artistry of embellished and engraved firearms.
The Opening is in Our Sights
We’re so thankful to our donors, designers, contractors, advisory board, trustees, fellow colleagues, volunteers, an untold number of patrons and supporters, and of course, our families and friends! Without you, there would be no #NewCFM—we can’t wait to show it to you!
Ed. Note: The new Cody Firearms Museum opened to the public on July 6, 2019. Come see it in person!