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Buffalo Bill and the Wild West

DATES November 21, 1981 through January 17, 1982
  • November 21, 1981 NEW YORK, August 21 -- Buffalo Bill and his Wild West Show are coming east next winter. Annie Oakley, Sitting Bull, the Congress of Rough Riders of the World, the Deadwood Coach and the last of the Great Scouts himself will come alive in New York in November -- for a two-month run as an exhibition at The Brooklyn Museum, one of the major cultural centers of New York City.

    The exhibition, highlighted by representations of the frontier spectacle created by one of the most famous of all Americans, is called Buffalo Bill and the Wild West. Organized by The Brooklyn Museum in cooperation with the Buffalo Bill Historic Center in Cody, Wyoming, it will open at the Museum on November 21 and continue through January 17, 1982. David H. Katsive, Director of the DeCordova Museum, Lincoln, Massachusetts, is the guest curator.

    Incorporating more than 70 paintings and sculptures depicting scenes and life in the West, 250 historical objects and Buffalo Bill memorabilia, and a few selected works of Plains Indian art, the exhibition will examine the unique mixture of fantasy and reality behind the myth of the frontier, particularly through the character of Buffalo Bill, a remarkable American hero whose legend refuses to die.

    Sponsored by Philip Morris Incorporated and The Seven-Up Company, it will travel after closing in Brooklyn to the Museum of Art, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh, from February 13-April 11, 1982, before the objects return to Cody for their summer tourist season.

    The Brooklyn installation will be divided into four thematic areas.

    The Western Wilderness features works by such artists as Albert Bierstadt, Karl Bodmer, George Catlin, John Mix Stanley and Thomas Moran. Their images spell out the lure of Buffalo Bill’s West -- towering mountain ranges, endless plains, herds of buffalo, Indians living close to the land. In selected images, these artists’ visions of the Indian and the frontier will demonstrate a variety of approaches to the documentation and selling of the American West.

    The centerpiece of The Buffalo Bill Gallery is the Wild West Show, focusing on the original show created and promoted by Cody as both an entertaining and educational lesson in American history. It will be surrounded by tableaux created from the legendary hero’s memorabilia which graphically present the facts and myths of his frontier career -- as plainsman, pony express rider, guide and buffalo hunter, Indian fighter and Chief of Scouts for the U.S. Cavalry -- and, in later life, as preserver, promoter, performer, showman, land developer and filmmaker.

    Paintings and bronzes by Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell and others in The Cowboys and Indians Gallery focus on images of the vigor and pathos of the closing days of the frontier.

    The Legacy of Buffalo Bill Gallery offers modern interpretations of the Buffalo Bill legend on film and in other media. Text, photo panels and video explore public attitudes toward Col. Cody and the West in the 64 years since his death.

    A color poster is being designed for the exhibition and a special publication is being produced for popular distribution (96 pages, 219 illustrations, 68 in color). It will feature six essays by a number of prominent specialists on the American West.

    Public programs supplementing the exhibition include forums, feature films and folksongs about Buffalo Bill and the frontier; gallery talks on the Brooklyn Museum’s outstanding collections of Plains Indian objects and 19th century American paintings; and story hours for children featuring American folk tales and Indian legends.

    Additional winter tours of Buffalo Bill and the Wild West to Europe in 1983 and to the Orient in 1984 are being planned.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1971 - 1988. 1982, 009-11.
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