This past Saturday was National American Cowboy Day, and the Autry Museum debuted its new, permanent exhibit, "Western Frontiers: Stories of Fact and Fiction" in its Gamble Firearms Gallery.
The exhibit looks at themes in Western history as seen through a key artifact: the gun. It ranges from early hunters and trappers through pioneers and old West law enforcement to Wild West shows, the conservation movement and television cowboys.
Guns are a hot topic in American politics, and everyone seems to have have an opinion on the subject. Museum curator Jeffrey Richardson hopes the exhibit is presented in such a way that it transcends people's opinion on guns and only serves to educate.
"Our hope here at the museum is that regardless of how people feel when they walk in, they will leave the museum with a better understanding of the role firearms played in the West," said Richardson during a museum walkthrough with KPCC's A Martinez. "That will give them further ammunition to make their own decision about their thoughts on firearms, not only in history, but in modern society as well."
From Teddy Roosevelt's gold-plated revolver to Steve McQueen's modified carbine, the exhibit features a plethora of firearms that tell the story of the American West, a period deeply rooted in gun culture.
Richardson describes the balance of the exhibit saying the collection is full of, "beautifully engraved guns which are world class, but were practical tools on the American Frontier that people needed simply to survive."