Museums are recognizing, celebrating and interpreting the traditions of the American West through exhibits that are anything but traditional as they combine art and photography with storytelling and artifacts. Whether the subject is cowboy gear or prehistoric homelands or the trickster stories of coyote or the legends of the OK Corral or Deadwood, there is a story for everyone.
Developing new museum exhibits is a long process, and the reimaging of a major institution is even more challenging. But when all the planning and fundraising are complete, when the exhibits are built, the films finalized and the artifacts in their new cases, the result is something to celebrate. Signifi cant projects during the past year include Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West’s repositioning its marketing, permanent and rotating exhibitions under the new theme “See the West from a Whole New Perspective;” the opening of new galleries at the Cody Firearms Museum; and at the Cowboy Arts and Gear Museum in Elko, housed in the saddle shop and home of legendary silversmith G.S. Garcia.
We’ve visited museums all across the West, even as far north as Alaska, to bring you this year’s Best of the Western Museums.
1 SCOTTSDALE’S MUSEUM OF THE WEST, SCOTTSDALE, AZ: The museum’s curators want visitors to “see the West from a whole new perspective,” and they deliver. In addition to the ongoing exhibits