This exhibition illuminates the sweep of American Western history through one of its definitive artifacts: the firearm. This display in the Gamble Firearms Gallery features some of the finest specimens of the gun maker’s art by iconic manufacturers such as Remington, Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Winchester, among others. Their history, provenance, and craftsmanship contribute to a museum display of nearly unmatched value.
The exhibition explores the many roles guns have played in the history of the West, from the American “frontier” in the late eighteenth century through Wild West shows at the turn of the twentieth. Themes explored include hunting and trapping, the impact of technology on firearms, the conservation movement, and the West in popular culture.
From the Colt and Winchester firearms Teddy Roosevelt used in the West, to Annie Oakley’s gold-plated handguns with pearl grips, to a Remington revolver once owned by Gettysburg hero General George Meade, this evolving display reflects the real and imagined stories behind the people who owned those guns. The exhibition also features historical documents, artworks, and artifacts, including historic advertisements, colored-glass target spheres used in sharp-shooter demonstrations, and trading cards featuring Oakley, all of which place the firearms in a rich cultural and historic context.