Cowboys take over Shelburne Museum

Photo by Andy Duback
“Two Cowboys in the Saddle,” oil by Carl Rungius.

This weekend, cowboys and the Wild West take center stage at Shelburne Museum’s summer exhibition that opens in the Pizzagalli Center for Arts and Education’s Colgate Gallery.

“Playing Cowboy: America’s Wild West Shows,” will be on view through Oct. 21 and it will employ paintings, sculptures, film footage and textiles.

The focus of the exhibit is the live entertainment shows that starred real cowboys – and cowgirls – long before movie legends like John Wayne ever galloped across the silver screen.

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody defined the cowboy ideal by acting out the exploits of his life in this uniquely American form of entertainment.

The exhibit combines period posters with historical film footage to trace the influence Buffalo Bill and other Wild West shows had on shaping contemporary understandings of the American West, Native American history, and the cowboy way of life.

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