Tag Archives: museums

Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill are not the same person

12 Dec

As followers of this blog know, I dubbed myself Buffalo Doug after spending a sabbatical year at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (BBCW).

Others do not confuse me with Buffalo Bill. (True, I may often be confused, or confusing, but those are separate issues …)

However, Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill do get confused. (In the photo at left, who is which?)

Deb Adams of the BBCW explains the difference between the two, and how they did actually know each other: Buffalo Bill and Wild Bill – Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

John Mix Stanley and Art of the U.S. West

12 Nov

John Mix Stanley is not a name as well known as George Catlin, Thomas Moran, or Albert Bierstadt so far as painting the American West goes. This is largely because so much of his work was lost in an 1865 fire at the Smithsonian Institution.

As Nancy McClure explains, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West has acquired an 1855 painting by Stanley: Untitled Teton Valley Scene. The painting should help draw more attention to this neglected 19th-century artist.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West acquires John Mix Stanley painting.

A 3D Tour of Picasso’s Guernica

28 Oct

Lena Gieseke has created a 3-D tour of Pablo Picasso’s famous 1937 painting Guernica. The painting is not only a statement about the Spanish Civil War, but about the effects of war in general.

 

 

A 3D Tour of Picasso’s Guernica | Open Culture.

“Hidalgo” and the search for Frank Hopkins

28 Sep

For those who may remember the film Hidalgo and wonder about its historicity, here’s an “old” article by Juti Winchester of the Buffalo Bill Center on that topic: Points West Online: “Hidalgo” and the search for Frank Hopkins.

The Great War, on digital display

12 Jul

As mentioned here before (for example, here), this August will bring the centennial of the start of World War I.

The National World War I Museum in Kansas City and the Google Cultural Institute have put together a digital gallery on the war. You can find the gallery here: National World War I Museum – Google Cultural Institute.

What Does a [Natural Science] Curator Do?

10 Jul

If you have ever wondered what a curator does, this post by Charles Preston the Draper Natural History Museum of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West provides an enlightening explanation: What Does a Curator Do? – Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

A Different Perspective on the Battle of Litte Bighorn

6 Jun

The Battle of Greasy Grass, by Allan Mardon

Ever since my wife and I spent a sabbatical year at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West (2002-2003), I have been haunted by Allan Mardon’s painting, imaged above. Titled The Battle of Greasy Grass, it presents the battle in a scale that looks to the grand battle art of Western artistic tradition, yet in a manner that draws heavily on the ledger book and buffalo hide style of the Plains Indians of the 19th century. (Mardon is not himself Native American.)

I find the painting vivid and at the same time disorienting–enough so as to get beyond the standard non-Indian visual depictions of the battle and bring me back towards the historical event with fresh perspective.

You can read Emily Kassebaum’s piece on the painting here: TAKING A DEEPER LOOK: MARDON’S THE BATTLE OF GREASY GRASS – Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

NAGPRA and a poisoned legacy

3 Jun

NAGPRA (Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act) was passed by Congress in 1990. It began a long overdue process of returning various human remains and material objects back to various tribal peoples.

Hoopa Tribal Museum curator Silis-chi-tawn Jackson displays artifacts returned to the tribe by Harvard University's Peabody Museum that were preserved with dangerous chemicals.

Hoopa Tribal Museum curator Silis-chi-tawn Jackson displays artifacts returned to the tribe by Harvard University’s Peabody Museum that were preserved with dangerous chemicals.

An article by Joaquin Palomino in the latest High Country News, however, details what one non-Indian chemist calls “the museum world’s dirty little secret”: preserving Native American materials with pesticides and other potentially poisonous chemicals.

Palomino summarizes the situation this way:

In the 19th and 20th centuries, state and national museums used more than 90 different pesticides on artifacts to protect them from bugs and rodents. As a result, an estimated 80 percent of all U.S. ethnographic collections are contaminated with heavy metals, posing health dangers to staff, visitors and, since the 1992 passage of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act NAGPRA, to tribes who’ve sought the safe return of artifacts. “It’s been the museum world’s dirty little secret for decades,” notes Peter Palmer, a San Francisco State University chemist and leading expert on the issue.

For his entire article, see here: Archaeology’s poisonous past — High Country News.

Buffalo Bill Center of the West puts collections online

17 Apr

Yee  haw! The Buffalo Bill Center of the West–formerly the Buffalo Bill Historical Center–is announcing the debut of its Online Collections.

The announcement and the portal is here: The New Online Collections – Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

The collections are stunning in their scope and variety–Buffalo Bill Cody material, Western art, Plains Indian crafts, firearms, Yellowstone Basin environment. My wife and I got to explore them extensively in 2002-2003. Now they will be available digitally to a global audience.

In Praise of (Electronic) Serendipity

10 Jan

Old books smell delicious, apparently like a combination of grass and vanilla. Browsing the stacks offers us a chance not only to enjoy the lovely aroma but also to stumble upon that fragrant book we didn\’t know existed, or that we wanted, but that is just the one we needed! Ah, serendipity! It consistently tops, or nearly tops, the list of 20th-century library features we sorrowfully mourn. As we move ever-increasingly toward electronic-focused library collections, it seems we\’ll have to forgo this feature and pleasure of physical browsing.

Elliott Brandow, quoted above, acknowledges that the smells are disappearing from the digital search experience–but he argues that we are not losing the “serendipity” that comes from finding the unexpected.

I wonder, though …

See the entire piece here: The Historical Society: In Praise of (Electronic) Serendipity.

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