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Cowboy mecca: Buffalo Bill Center in Cody, Wyoming.

Cody, Wyoming, population 7,838, may appear an out-of-the-way place for a world-caliber museum. Yet every year several hundred thousand visitors come to the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in this cowboy and ranching town east of Yellowstone National Park. Here, they visit the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, the Plains Indian Museum, and the Buffalo Bill Museum.

Now a new wing has been added to house the Cody Firearms Museum, the most comprehensive collection of American firearms in the world. Whatever your opinions on guns, you'll learn much about their history and their part in history.

A 20-minute video introduces the exhibit. ?Displays follow a timeline, beginning with 15th-century matchlocks, then showing flintlocks, percussion rifles and revolvers, and cartridge and gas-operated arms.

There's a complete collection of Winchester firearms. Among European and American weaponry is an 1865 double-barreled pinfire shotgun given by Emperor Napoleon III to Oliver F. Winchester. "Personality" pieces include Theodore Roosevelt's Winchester Model 1876, Ernest Hemingway's Winchester Model 21, and Gary Cooper's Single-Action Colt.

Period rooms include a colonial gun shop and a frontier stage stop. The Boone and Crockett National ?Collection of big game trophies reflects an unusual historical twist in animal conservation: these trophies were taken by turn-of-the-century sport hunters interested in documenting disappearing species.

The museum is at 1720 Sheridan Avenue. September hours are 8 to 8 daily. Cost is $7, $6 seniors, $4 ages 13 through 18, $2 ages 6 through 12; (307) 587-4771.
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Date:Sep 1, 1991
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