Nerd day at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center: Cody to Cody
Thursday June 6, 2013
The Buffalo Bill Historical Center, now the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, contains five main galleries: Buffalo Bill; Western Art; Plains Indians; Natural History of Greater Yellowstone; and, Firearms. Admission cost is $18 for adults; a dollar off for AAA members. The admission cost is good for two days. In addition to the galleries, each day has a whole program of presentations going on that are free to attend.
Yes, it’s a bit expensive, but the galleries are very well done and informative. You also get the equivalent of 5 museums for that price. Or at least that’s the way I rationalise it to myself. I enjoy the time I spend here, so the admission cost is worth it to me.
I check out all of the galleries except the firearms one. I’ve got no interest in guns at all, so I don’t waste my time.
I’m surprised by the Western Art gallery – there are some really interesting pieces and some alternative perspectives on western history.
The natural history gallery takes you through all the different ecosystems, starting with the alpine zone. All of the galleries are interactive, with supplemental audio and video exhibits if you want to investigate a topic further. I find the section on fire to be a little under-done – considering the size and impacts of the 1988 fires – but I’m probably a little biased on that topic. My favourite part of this gallery is pressing all the buttons to hear the different bird calls – hoping I can remember some of these as I ride!
Finally, I go have a look at the Buffalo Bill gallery. I encountered him several times on my 2010 tour, and I’m not sure what to think of him. I don’t want to like him for some reason. I tell myself not to judge him with modern eyes but to see him as a product of his time. I spend a while in there, and I certainly add a lot more complexity to the image I had of him, but I’m still not quite sure what to think. In the end, he died sad and broke. Maybe that’s the price of fame; maybe it just says that there is no buffer to heartache and bad business decisions. I don’t know – I still feel like I have more respect for many of the mountain men than this army scout-turned-entertainer, however.
It’s mid-afternoon by the time I’ve exhausted myself with the historical center. My original plans were to ride out to the old internment camp at Heart Mountain to see its award-winning exhibits. However, my brain is pretty full and my body says we have not yet fully recovered from the flu, so I save my energy and give that one a miss this time. Instead, I head over to the library, transfer photos from my memory card to my USB stick and then head back for an early night. Big day coming tomorrow, and the crew and I aren’t quite sure what to expect.