Horses have had a huge influence on the western experience and Wyoming history, a new exhibit “A Horse, Of Course,” opening at the Wyoming State Museum May 1, explores that relationship.
Through photographs, artwork and artifacts drawn exclusively from the collections of the Wyoming State Museum and State Archives, the exhibit focuses on the important role horses played in opening the American West.
“Paleo horses became extinct on the North American continent around 10,000 BC and weren’t re-introduced until the Spanish arrived in what is today Florida and Central America in the 1500s. It wasn’t until the 18th century that horses were brought to this region,” notes the exhibit’s curator, David L. Newell. “So in the history of the world, modern horses have only been in this area a relatively short time.”
But as shown in the new exhibit, their impact was profound. “North America has a population of more than 9.5 million horses today, among the largest concentrations in the world, and the development of the American West would not have been possible without them. Before the invention of the internal-combustion engine, mankind was truly reliant on real horse power!”
“A Horse, Of Course” begins with Sioux ledger book drawings and works its way from the 19th to the 21st century using period and contemporary art, advertisements, documentary photographs and objects relating to horse culture. The exhibit features overviews of the relationships between American Indians and cowboys and their horses, horses at work and in sports, and symbolism relating to horses.
“A Horse, Of Course” will be on display from May 1, through March 31. There will be a public reception on May 24 from 5 - 7p.m.
The Wyoming State Museum is located in the Barrett Building at 2301 Central Avenue in Cheyenne. The museum is open Monday through Saturday. Hours are seasonal. Admission is free. Call 307-777-7022.