Cody to the World! Celebrating 100 Years at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West
June 2, 2017 – January 31, 2018
Between 1917 and 2017, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West grew alongside its local and regional communities in a changing America and a changing world. The passage of one hundred years allows us to look at the humble origins and impressive presence of the Center of the West on a larger scale.
The Center and its mission “to inspire, educate, and engage global audiences through an authentic experience with the American West” helped shape the identity of the American West through art, science, culture, and history to connect to a place and spirit found nowhere else on earth.
Cody to the World! opens in the Center of the West’s Special Exhibitions Gallery on June 2, 2017, and runs through January 31, 2018. In addition to the special exhibition, each of our five museums will share a few additional pieces related to our Centennial.
Out West where the North Begins: Harold McCracken in Alaska, 1916–1928
June 2, 2017 – January 31, 2018
As part our Centennial celebration in 2017, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West and our McCracken Research Library opens, later this spring, a special exhibition to share the remarkable story of Harold McCracken and how this adventurer ultimately found himself in Cody, Wyoming. Yes, the research library is named for him, and he also served as the Center’s first director.
Out West where the North Begins focuses on the formative years McCracken spent in Alaska. His first trip in 1916 to collect specimens of northern big game for a museum at Ohio State University was much more than that to McCracken. He wanted to know the world of Alaska, its landscapes, native peoples, and wild creatures. As a writer, he hoped to represent it, as in re-create it for others; as a public personality, he sought to embody it himself.
The exhibition tells this American tale—one of adventures, failures, successes, and the forging of a heroic identity based on frontier experiences. It invites comparison to the story our museum tells of William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody. Out West where the North Begins opens in the Center’s Special Exhibitions Gallery on June 2, 2017, and runs through January 31, 2018.
Coming in 2018
Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West
June 8, 2018 – September 30, 2018
The Buffalo Bill Center of the West and Gilcrease Museum have partnered to present a groundbreaking exhibition titled Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West. Bierstadt (1830–1902) is best known as America’s premier western landscape artist. He was also a renowned history painter, a rarely discussed element of his legacy. This major exhibition will address Bierstadt in context of his treatment not just of majestic mountains and lakes but more prominently of bison and American Indians, whom he approached as key subjects for his art.
Bierstadt’s history paintings conveyed moral messages as he strove to preserve the dignity of Native people like the Sioux and Shoshone, reveal the tragic slaughter of the American bison, and inspire empathy for the remnant herds of buffalo in Yellowstone National Park as the species neared extinction. The painter’s masterwork, The Last of the Buffalo (ca. 1888), stands as a powerful example of the national and international impact of Bierstadt’s art for Euro-American and Native people alike in the late nineteenth century. This and other selected works demonstrate the ways in which Bierstadt engaged with environmental and aesthetic issues of his time, and employed the subjects of Plains Indians and bison as iconic symbols of western America’s changing face.
The exhibition and namesake peer-reviewed publication will stand as unprecedented examinations of one of the nation’s most significant artists. This project will attract the attention of audiences familiar with Bierstadt’s complex legacy and those interested in the histories of conservation and wildlife management in America, our national parks, and the Indigenous peoples of the American West. Looking beyond the grand manner landscapes for which he is famous, this exhibition is inspired by Bierstadt’s paintings of American Indians and bison, and thus promotes fresh, new perspectives on a beloved American artist.
After its run at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, this exhibition travels to Gilcrease Museum, where it opens November 4, 2018, and runs through February 10, 2019.