Guns Galore. Bunch O’ Guns. Guns Are Us.
The Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West could have changed its name during its $12 million renovation, but is sticking with its same moniker when it throws a grand reopening party Saturday.
Events to formally dedicate the updated museum begin outdoors on center grounds at 3 p.m.
A fundraising campaign seeking $12 million for the work was announced in the fall of 2017 and the goal was reached.
“Everything went well,” said Bruce Sauers, director of revenue and enterprise.
Only days before the planned opening, workers were still loading guns into cases and rounding off corners, but it was clear things were 95 percent ready for liftoff.
Those who have previously visited the firearms museum will be struck by dramatic differences and upgrades.
The museum collection includes 7,000 firearms and another 3,000-plus objects. Displays have been completely changed over and more weapons than ever will be visible to the visitor, about 1,000 more. The oldest items in the collection are crossbows and longbows dating back to the 1200s.
More history behind the manufacture and use of guns and their place in time, are explained more thoroughly.
Although the museum is housed in the same 40,000 square feet of space as before, it appears totally different, including new-look glass cases.
For gun lovers, those fascinated by gun history, and their role across the centuries, the Firearms Museum is pretty much the equivalent of a Disneyland of the gun world minus Mickey Mouse.
Curator Ashley Hlebinsky led an early half-hour-plus-long tour through galleries that could easily otherwise take hours to soak in.
Hlebinsky is featured in a welcome video at the main entrance to the displays informing visitors of highlights.
Surveys indicate about half of the people who visit the Firearms Museum are gun-oriented and about 50 percent are general patrons checking out the Center’s attractions as a whole.
For that reason, some of the new aspects of the revamped museum are aimed at fundamental education, with such information explaining what a bullet is. In a sense this is a dictionary on the wall, a primer, as Hlebinsky put it, for the less knowledgeable.
Some offbeat history is featured, as well, including a case showing how the Louisville Slugger factory once made wooden carbine stocks in addition to its line of baseball bats.
Following the trend of most museums, the Firearms Museum now has many more interactive exhibits.
There is a display on military history and gun safety. Hlebinsky said there is a need for that. She said she never expected to have to say, “Sir, don’t point that rifle at your girlfriend’s butt.”
There is a video on gun collecting and Hlebinsky noted, “King Louis XIII is the first known gun collector.”
An antique muzzleloader that once belonged to the French king is on view.
Visitors will have chances to fire simulators, view the science that goes into the manufacture of weapons, and shoot at targets. Some shooting exhibits require payment.
It is a likelihood the M-2 machine gun will attract attention. No doubt the sections showing off the guns of the Old West and those related to former western TV shows will prove popular.
“Always,” Hlebinsky said of the lure of the TV guns.
Spread over two floors, guns of the past that are not viewable in major-sized display cases can be accessed in pull-out cases from walls or drawers.
It would be easy for a visitor to the Cody Firearms Museum to depart believing he had seen everything in the world related to guns.
“We’re trying,” Hlebinsky said.