Buffalo Culture Collection two steps closer to exhibition at Buffalo Bill Historical Center

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The vision to share the Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection—embraced by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, and its Plains Indian Museum—gathered even more momentum with two additional grants received in late 2012. The funds are bringing to fruition the highly anticipated exhibition of these objects of the Native people of the Great Plains dating back to a period that artist Paul Dyck identified as the “Buffalo Culture” era, the late 1700s to pre-1890s.

Plains Indian Museum

Humped Wolf's bison hide shield, Crow, ca. 1870. NA.108.136

...the most comprehensive privately-held assemblage of Plains Indian arts and related historical materials...

The Dyck Collection, acquired by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in 2007, “has long been considered by art historians, ethnologists, and historians to be the most comprehensive privately-held assemblage of Plains Indian arts and related historical materials documenting the lives and cultures of Native people of the Great Plains,” says Emma I. Hansen, Plains Indian Museum curator. The collection itself—started by Dyck’s father in 1886—includes clothing, eagle feather bonnets, bear claw necklaces, buffalo hide tipis and tipi furnishings, shields, cradles, peace medals, moccasins, and the like.

A $28,000 planning grant from the National Endowment for the Arts makes possible the development of the national touring exhibition "Enduring Legacies of the Great Plains." With an exhibit catalogue, interpretive educational materials and programming, and Web-based experiences, the exhibition focuses on the arts, cultures, and lives of Native people of the Plains. The completed exhibition—with approximately 150 objects, additional historical photographs, and a computer interactive station—is scheduled to be installed in the 5,000-square-foot Special Exhibitions Gallery at the Historical Center in 2014 and travel to several other venues throughout the United States beginning in 2015.

In addition, the Center received $10,000 from the Wyoming Humanities Council for the new Paul Dyck Center for Plains Indians, an 1800-square-foot permanent exhibition gallery located in the Plains Indian Museum. Drawing from the resources of the Dyck Collection, the proposed exhibition gallery and program will explore the role of art within environmental, cultural, and historical contexts. Its opening on June 14, 2013, precedes the Historical Center’s 32nd Annual Plains Indian Museum Powwow June 15 – 16.

For its work with the Dyck Collection, the Plains Indian Museum previously received a $40,000 planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, as well as $350,000 from the Save America’s Treasures program administered by the National Park Service. That award was used to fund research, cataloging, and conservation of the collection’s more than 2,000 artifacts.

Some of the collection’s first objects were placed on exhibit in 2008, the first time any part of the collection had been on view for the general public. “The artifacts come from several different tribes,” Hansen says, “and because many were made prior to the late-nineteenth-century reservation period, they fill in many gaps in our collection and provide continuity in showing the historical transitions of Plains Indian people.”

The Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture Collection was acquired through the generosity of the Dyck family and additional gifts of the Nielson Family and the Estate of Margaret S. Coe.

Committed to connecting people with the Spirit of the American West, the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms technology and the nature of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center, an Affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, is now operating its winter schedule through February 28: open Thursday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m., closed Monday – Wednesday. For general information, visit the Center's Web site, or call 307.587.4771.

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Marguerite House

Emma I. Hansen
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