Friday, October 1, 2010

Good Ol' Buffalo Bill, and then some.

For starters let me tell you that we spent a total of 10 hours at this place over a period of two days! TEN hours!  And to think we almost skipped it thinking it was too touristy!  Thank God I have friends who are wiser and do their best to try and steer me right!

'This place' is the -


As I mentioned in yesterday's post, Cody is named for Buffalo Bill, AKA Buffalo Bill Cody.
Isn't this a great statue?!


This Smithsonian of the west as it's called, is comprised of 5 different museums: Wild West Art, The Plains Indians, Yellowstone, Buffalo Bill, and Guns.  It also has many many hands on activities for kids, keeping them very well entertained to be sure.  I have to say though, the kids surprised me by being so taken by the displays, particularly the ART (!!), that the hands on activities were merely a bonus, not the main event.

So, let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start....anybody singing yet?  :-) Sorry, songs stick in my head that way.....

Wild West Art:

Not sure why we don't have many pictures of the actual art, guess we were too busy looking at it.  We do however have pictures of all the hands on parts of the exhibit. Guess that's when Iw as sitting around watching the kids and therefore taking pictures!  The kids not only got plenty of art history and appreciation, but also got to use that new knowledge right then and there.  I have to admit, until very recently, my appreciation and knowledge of art was not exactly stellar.  Not that it is now, but I'm learning right along with them.  For a change....

Inventor was most taken by the works of art that involved those bright and vibrant colors.  This is not the finest example of them, but it does depict the ancient method of hunting buffalo, throwing them off a cliff, that fascinated him as well.


Here they are learning about the process of creating a bronze statue.  Wow! I never imagined it was SUCH a process, it's pretty incredible!


The kids at the sketching station, kept them busy for at least 40 minutes!




And finally, the last hands on section of the art museum, 'create your own wild west' on the computer.  You can add people, housing, mountains, etc, etc.  It was pretty cool.


The decision of where to go next was left up to a game of rock paper scissors.  I believe paper won and off we went to -


There was so much to see, so many artifacts, dioramas, recreations, audio visual demonstrations, etc. - it was endless. The kids really enjoyed it, as did we, but they were so tired by the end that we just had to call it a day.  Luckily and wisely, admission gives you two consecutive days to explore the entire center, there's no way anyone can (thoroughly) finish it all in one.  Even without kids.




The next day found Analyzer and I at the ice rink again, giving her one more chance to skate and the boys enough time to immerse themselves in guns, without boring us to tears....We joined them, an hour and a half later (!) for the last bit of the guns, that was plenty for us thank you very much.
Even the gun museum had hands on activities.  Inventor was quite the shot! We were all pretty impressed.  Who knew?!




Moving right along to Buffalo Bill's Wild West museum....

Annie Oakley was of course a main attraction, as she always was.  My kids are very familiar with her thanks in part to a wonderful Myths and Legends DVD series we used to check out of the library.


Buffalo Bill.

We actually began our education on all things Buffalo Bill (from here on out known as BB, cause typing out the whole name each time is a pain) almost a year ago.  On our way back from Florida we had stopped in Oakley, KS just because it was something potentially interesting to do on the long long highway cutting across Kansas.  There, we learned that as a young man BB was hired by the railroad as a buffalo hunter so that the soldiers might have some meat to eat.  He was so skilled at hunting these animals that he won a shooting competition with another 'Bill' and earned the name 'Buffalo Bill'.

Of course the military also went out and killed (not hunted!) thousands of buffalo with the sole purpose of cutting off the animal that provided food, clothes and shelter to the Native Americans.  We saw photos of the piles and piles of hides, bones and carcasses that simply went to waste, not to mention the murder involved here: The murder of the buffalo AND the indirect murder of the Native Americans.  I won't go in to the actual genocide of the Native Americans quite yet though.

Back to BB.  He wore many many hats throughout his life (not in the correct order necessarily): Military scout, trapper, Pony Express rider, hunter, among other things. He had quite a bit of adventure under his belt even before starting his wild west show.  Obviously he was a hugely successful businessman and performer, but he was also a father of 4 and a loving one at that. From what we learned, he was a good person.  He respected, honored and befriended the Native Americans he worked with and in general.  He never treated them as second class citizens.

So, we learned a lot about him as a man, not just as a 'Hollywood star'.  BTW, his wife outlived him AND 3 of their children! I can't even imagine....


He loved children, and they loved him.  As do ours :-)


The exhibit itself is chock full of authentic memorabilia from the general wild west, his military days, show days, family life and house(s) and of course his death.  He's buried BTW in mountains of Colorado, not far from where our stick house is. He's got a grave with a view!

The very last exhibit we explored was 'Yellowstone'.  Given that we'd just come from there, we left it for the end since we'd had quite a bit of it already.

The exhibit had a lot going for it, even for someone who had it coming out their ears already.

It had technology -


Quite a bit of hands on learning -



A reading corner - for all, as you can see.


Real buffalo hides to play with!


A great demonstration of how each and every part of the buffalo was used by the Native Americans, not a thing went to waste!


And finally, nothing like a map you can walk all over to really understand where you are!


Of course, we could not possibly end our two days at the center without incident.  Nope, that would be unheard of!  I wasn't there for it, as it was in the gun section while Analyzer and I were at the ice rink, but this is the account I got......

So, again, I'll give you one guess as to who we're talking about here.  Said child, ok Whirlwind, while looking intently at an exhibit about hunted wildlife, got a little too up close and personal....he leaned over the low railing, and whoops!  Practically did a summersault right over it and INTO the exhibit!  Crash, boom, screaming and all.....guards running over....oh my!  He was fine, if not a little shaken up, but the guards insisted (they seem to be pretty insistent about a lot of things at this place) that an accident report must be filled out.....So, they did.

Happy to report and reiterrate that the child AND the exhibit were all in one piece after this little 'incident'.  :-)

That my friends, is the end of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

We had some art, science (geology, climatology, zoology, environmental studies) and loads of history to digest!

It was exhausting and time consuming, but worth every. single. second!

1 comment:

  1. what - no photo of Whirlwind IN the exhibit! so glad you decided to stop there.