Thursday, February 3, 2011

Al Simpson announces retirement from Buffalo Bill Memorial Association board

Al Simpson has announced his retirement as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association. Here are some details from the BBHC:
The Honorable Alan K. Simpson (former U.S. senator, R-Wyo.) today announced his plan to retire as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Buffalo Bill Memorial Association, effective in September, 2011. Simpson joined the board in 1968 and became its chairman in 1998. The Buffalo Bill Memorial Association is the legal entity that operates the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, one of the world's highly respected museums of the American West.

"It has truly been a rare honor and privilege to chair this incredible board," Simpson said. "Now it is time to 'hand over the gavel' to new leadership. I most certainly will stay involved - for I dearly love this place and these special people - and shall always continue to fully support the board and staff of this wonderful institution in all their good work - but someone else will now provide the central vision."

Simpson said that the Governance Committee of the Board of Trustees will begin the nomination process this spring and a new chairman will be in place effective at the time of the September meeting. "There are so many decent, loyal, dedicated people on this board and thus I am very confident the next chairperson will continue to be able to do many great and progressive things," he added.

The Association and the Center accomplished many fine projects under Simpson's leadership. Among those accomplishments, yet by no means all, were: the opening of a new Plains Indian Museum in 2000; the opening of the Draper Museum of Natural History in 2002; the acquisition of the Paul Dyck Plains Indian Buffalo Culture collection and the funding and implementation of the Papers of William F. Cody project in 2007; the reinstallation and reopening of the Whitney Gallery of Western Art and 50th anniversary celebration in 2009; and the planning and beginning of fundraising for the reinstallation of the Buffalo Bill Museum, scheduled for opening in 2012.

Simpson also was influential in completing an agreement with the Smithsonian Institution that brought Thomas Moran's 1893 painting Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone to the Center as part of the Whitney Gallery's 50th anniversary celebration. The historically significant painting was on exhibit at the Center for six months and offered thousands of visitors a rare and unique opportunity to see such a masterwork so near in proximity to the actual location it represents.

"One of the many things I am so very proud of is how excited our visitors are as they enjoy the Buffalo Bill Historical Center," Simpson said. "When I wander through the galleries on a busy summer day - or even on a slow winter day - and I see families gather around, expressing their fascination with these exhibits and being captivated by the stories they are seeing and hearing, it truly makes all of our efforts worthwhile."

"I am also very proud of our able and accessible Executive Director Bruce Eldredge and our most talented board and staff for having successfully weathered the recent economic downturn," Simpson said. "They all planned and managed so very carefully, and we have come out the other side in pretty good shape. Oh sure, there are still challenges - there always will be - yet this board and staff will always confront them and overcome them. They have already proven that many times over. God Bless 'em!"

"It's difficult to express how much all of us appreciate and respect Al's leadership," Bruce Eldredge, the Center's executive director, said. "He has helped us accomplish great things, and we're happy he's not 'going away' but will continue to help us accomplish even more, just in a different way."