Nelson Museum of the West

I have mixed feelings about the Nelson Museum of the West. It’s got several excellent exhibits and historical items and gives visitors a detailed look into every aspect of the West, but one specific thing about the museum really annoyed me. I spent a good hour going through the exhibits. There is a lot to see and one hour doesn’t do it justice.

Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Nelson Museum of the West

 

First Floor

On the first floor, there are some pieces of Native American art on display, including textiles, sheaths, and shoes. There were also several different army uniforms used by soldiers in the west. They were organized in chronological order and labeled with the war or period they were worn.

Native American art at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Native American art

Military uniforms at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Military uniforms

 

Second Floor

Upstairs, there were more interesting exhibits. Guns typically used in the West were prominently on display, as were spurs, chaps, saddles, hats, and other items used by cowboys. There was also a display about Mexican cowboys, including sombreros, saddles, and spurs.

Firearms at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Firearms

Mexican display at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Mexican display

Another display honored Edward H. Bohlin (1895-1980), Hollywood’s finest saddlemaker. He made countless items for Western films during his life and outfitted stars such as Gene Autry, Roy Rogers, and the Lone Ranger. Born in Sweden, he was obsessed with the cowboy way of life. In 1912 at the age of 17, he moved to Montana and learned some cowboy skills along with the English language. By 1920, he had his very own leather shop, and by 1922, he was living in Hollywood. The rest is history.

Edward Bohlin display at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Edward Bohlin display

One special “room” displayed authentic artifacts used to decorate cattle barons’ homes and another displayed the furniture and some paintings by artist Burt Procter.

Cattle baron's room at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cattle baron’s room

Burt Procter room at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Burt Procter room

 

Basement

The basement focused on lawmen, outlaws, and crime in the West. Illegal gambling items, confiscated homemade weapons, and the story of the Ma Barker Gang was told with newspaper clippings and photos.

Gambling materials at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Gambling materials

Confiscated homemade weapons at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Confiscated homemade weapons

Ma Barker Gang at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Ma Barker Gang

There were also some fun handmade models of a Wild West courtroom scene and gambling saloon.

Courtroom scene at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Courtroom scene

Gambling saloon scene at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Gambling saloon scene

 

Big Game Animals

So, you’ve read everything about the selected exhibits I wrote about, you’ve seen the photos I’ve posted, and nothing seems off, right?

African animals at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

African animals

Grizzly bear at the Nelson Museum of the West in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Grizzly bear

Besides the grizzly bear, do any of these animals have anything to do with the West? Do they have anything to do with the United States? Not at all.

 

My Thoughts

Overall, the museum was excellent. However, having the animals scattered throughout made it seem like more of a taxidermy museum. Also, the labels indicate the name of the hunter and most of them were shot by one man. The museum states that hunting is a major tradition of the West. That’s fine, but I think it would be a whole lot better if they focused on the actual purpose of the museum rather than display one man’s African hunting trophies (although they should keep the animals from the West).

 

More Info

Admission to the Nelson Museum of the West is US$5 per person. Children under 12 are admitted free. It’s open from May to October and is located at 1714 Carey Avenue in downtown Cheyenne.

%d bloggers like this: