|Cowboy action shooters in Italy. Photo © Ruth Ellen Gruber|
By Ruth Ellen Gruber
The Autry National Center in Los Angeles has a new exhibit that -- like other exhibits at this wonderful museum -- explores both the West of fact and the West of the imagination.
Called "Western Frontiers: Stories of Fact and Fiction" it "illuminates the sweep of American Western history" through what it calls its "definitive artifact -- the firearm," exploring the history, artistry and symbolism of guns, both in the "real" wild west and in movies, TV shows, literature, fantasy and romance. Specific themes include hunting and trapping, the impact of technology on firearms, the conservation movement, and the West in popular culture.
The exhibit is the Autry’s inaugural exhibition in its new Gamble Firearms Gallery.
The examples featured—by iconic manufacturers such as Remington, Colt, Smith & Wesson, and Winchester, among others—are some of the finest specimens of the gun maker’s art, in terms of historic value, provenance, and pure beauty, that have ever been brought together in the United States. [...]
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 The exhibition also features historical documents, artworks, and artifacts, including Winchester advertisement lithographs, colored-glass target spheres used in sharp-shooter demonstrations, and a gun belt once owned by actor Steve McQueen, all of which place the firearms in a rich cultural and historic context.
The opening of the exhibit coincided with celebrations July 27 marking the Day of the Cowboy and Cowgirl.