Buffalo Bill Center of the West Draper Museum

Cody, Wyoming130,500 SF / 12,124 SMCompletion 2002

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West, formerly the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, comprises five museums and a research library in Cody, Wyoming—a quintessentially Old West town located just 50 miles from the East Entrance to Yellowstone National Park. As the region’s most popular cultural attraction, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West serves locals and visitors alike as they seek to gain a deeper understanding of the region’s vast and varied cultural and natural history.

Fentress Architects was chosen to create a forward-thinking monumental and heroic image for the Center as well as preserve the institution, which embodies the comprehensive essence of the west on a scale unmatched anywhere in the world. Fentress designed the new Draper Natural History Museum, renovation and expansion of the lobby, new museum store, new orientation theater, new collection care facilities, and reorientation of the entry drive and parking. Fentress also designed the renovation to the Whitney Western Art Museum.

Draper Natural History Museum

As the Center’s newest addition, the 50,000-square-foot Draper Natural History Museum augments the Center’s cultural offerings—Buffalo Bill Museum, Cody Firearms Museum, Plains Indian Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, and McCracken Research Library—with a facility wholly dedicated to the natural history of greater Yellowstone ecosystem.

Immersive, informative, and inspiring exhibits that explain the natural forces continuing to shape Yellowstone and the region have helped Draper gain international acclaim. As such, the museum is now an integral part of the itinerary for many of Yellowstone’s four million annual visitors.

Draper mirrors the Cody Firearms Museum in plan and elevation in order to create on the interior a more dynamic and central lobby experience, and on the exterior establish an embracing and recognizable entrance. Careful attention was paid to every aspect of the Museum—from how to be most efficiently condition and preserve artifacts to the placement of windows that frame views and connect visitors with the outdoors.

Whitney Western Art Museum

First opened in 1959, the Whitney Western Art Museum later merged with Buffalo Bill Center of the West and now features a collection of over 7,000 works. Fentress Architects design for the gallery creates a tranquil and contemplative space that supports the gallery’s orientation around thematic display. Activities are stationed throughout the gallery to enhance the experience and encourage discovery and creativity in visitors of all ages.