Sublette County Historical Society envisions grand expansion plans
Site plan for how the proposed expansion might occopy the museum grounds.
Recent energy development in the Upper Green River Valley has led to an explosion of known archaeological sites. The Jonah Interagency Mitigation & Reclamation Office (JIO) of the Pinedale Bureau of Land Management approved funding of a $50,000 grant for the Museum to build and display prehistoric and historic artifacts from the Jonah Field.
The Museum of the Mountain Man has one of the oldest authenticated sheephorn bows, dated 1690-1730. This type of bow was the most powerful short bow of Native American horse culture and was a highly prized possession.
American Mountain Men
The Museum of the Mountain Man sponsors Living History Days each May. The American Mountain Men demonstrate the daily life skills of the original mountain men to students from the region. In 2008, over 900 students from western Wyoming attended Living History Days.
Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal
The Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal is an academic, peer-reviewed publication by the Sublette County Historical Society and Museum of the Mountain Man. This is the third year for the annual publication.
Til Dawn's Early Light
"Til Dawn's Early Light", a 65x81" oil painting by William Ahrendt, depicts mountain men around a rendezvous campfire. It is a gift of Joe and Marlene Ricketts.
New Archaeology and Art wings, Old Pinedale planned at the Museum of the Mountain Man
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
March 8, 2009
The Sublette County Historical Society (SCHS) held their annual meeting and "Spring Thaw Party" at the Museum of the Mountain Man on Thursday, March 5th. The SCHS presented a document showing their strategic vision for the future. In it, they announce their desire to expand their facilities into four divisions. In addition to the Museum of the Mountain Man, they propose adding a new wing entitled "The Rocky Mountain Archaeology Center" and another called "The Rendezvous Center for the Arts". A fourth expansion division is the "Old Pinedale Settlement Center."
According to their strategic vision document, "As Sublette County faces the largest economic boom in its history and great changes to its culture and population, the Historical Society Board of Directors recognizes that it has a responsibility to help preserve the values, material evidence, and creative expression of our past, present and future. The artifact collection now comprises much more than the fur trade alone, but there is not enough space to coherently display and interpret even a fraction of the wide range of items we hold. We believe that by expanding and deepening its focus, the Historical Society can do justice to its collection, remain relevant to our changing local community, and elevate its profile in the state and the nation. In this way, the Historical Society will ensure its future."
The Rocky Mountain Archaeology Center
The SCHS proposes a 10,000 square foot addition adjacent to the Museum of the Mountain Man which would have anthropology, archaeology, geology, geography and paleontology displays. "Recent energy development in the Upper Green River Valley has led to an explosion of known archaeological sites," the strategic vision document states. "Prior to current development, about 1000 archaeological sites were known in Sublette County. Just thirteen years later, we know of almost 7000 identified sites spanning 10,000 years of human occupation." The SCHS would like to initiate loan agreements with the University of Wyoming and Bureau of Land Management to display artifacts and interpret the history being uncovered from the Jonah Field and Pinedale Anticline gas fields. The facility would include staffing for a professional archaeologist. Projected cost: $5 million, with a $10 million endowment for operations.
The Rendezvous Center for the Arts
"Beginning with petroglyphs, there is a rich history of art in the Upper Green River Valley," the vision document states. Famous artists of the Rocky Mountain fur trade era who came to the valley include Alfred Jacob Miller, Albert Bierstadt, William Henry Jackson and Carl Rungius. Oil paintings, watercolors and the earliest known surviving photographs of Wyoming were done by artists depicting the landscape and people of the Upper Green River Valley area. "Significant painting, sculpture and other art objects preserves culture and bring history alive to a broader audience," the vision document. The SCHS proposes a 10,000 square foot facility would include gallery area, a conservatory/public meeting room with kitchen to host functions, and an open air patio area for outdoor venues. The Historical Society currently has over 100 works of art available for permanent display, and hope to initiate loan agreements to display more significant pieces of artwork which have historical and interpretive value. The facility would include staffing for an Art Historian. Cost $5 million, with a $10 million endowment.
Old Pinedale Settlement Center
The majority of the 15,000 artifacts in their care of the Sublette County Historical Society relate to the settlement of Sublette County. Only a small portion of those items can be on display at any time, and are showcased on the basement floor of the Museum of the Mountain Man. The vast majority of settlement artifacts are in overflow storage. Over the past five years, the Historical Society has published or republished four settlement history books and a fifth is in the works. Over the past decade, several historic log buildings have been moved to the Museum grounds, giving rise to the concept of the Old Pinedale Settlement Center developed for interpretation of these structures and artifacts. The center would include the historic cabins, a 5,000 square foot livery stable for rolling stock, and outdoor displays. The plan includes funding for hiring a professional settlement historian. Cost $3 million, with a $6 million endowment.
The Museum of the Mountain Man
The SCHS envisions the Museum of the Mountain Man as having a subject matter scope of national importance. Their desire is to grow from a local museum to one of national significance. As facilities are added with new buildings to display their artifacts, space will be freed up in the main building to allow expansion of the exhibits focusing on the Rocky Mountain fur trade. Plans for the main building include creating a larger public entrance, expanding the gift shop, adding a conference/class room area, a small theatre, permanent covered outdoor meeting areas. The Museum wants to expand their Research Library to include originals and copies of hard-to-find primary sources of documents such as fur trade business records, journals and papers. In 2005, the SCHS published "The Fur Trade & Rendezvous of the Green River Valley," a 136-page full-color book about the Rocky Mountain fur trade era, edited by Dr. Fred Gowans and Brenda Francis. In 2007, the SCHS and Museum of the Mountain Man published the first "Rocky Mountain Fur Trade Journal", an annual peer-reviewed academic publication which is now in its third year. The Museum of the Mountain Man hopes to start a new Fellowship program to encourage new research on the Rocky Mountain fur trade era. As part of all the proposed new growth, the SCHS has plans to hire a full-time Curator. Projected cost is $1 million for construction/development and establishing a $14 million full endowment to fund the facility.
The Sublette County Historical Society began in 1935 and is the oldest historical society in the state of Wyoming. This grass-roots organization started commemorating the Green River Rendezvous by celebrating the 100th anniversary of that event in 1936. SCHS board members broke ground for the Museum of the Mountain Man in 1974 and opened their doors in 1990 in Pinedale. The Museum receives 8,000 to 10,000 visitors a year. Calling the Strategic Vision "Our Challenge, Our Opportunity, Our Future", the Board of Directors for the SCHS realizes their dreams for growth and expansion are very ambitious. The SCHS intends to continue their long-standing practice of not borrowing money for their proposed expansion plans and building the operational endowments. Development will proceed as funding is secured. Their dream of a facility that has four focus centers will have an annual operational cost of $2 million and require a $40 million endowment to sustain. Their endowment currently is $1.2 million (cash and real estate donations) and they operate on an annual budget of $500,000.
A National Park Service study found it costs an average $56 per artifact per year to properly document, preserve, curate, store and display a museum collection. The SCHS spends only about $22 per artifact per year for their 15,000 artifacts. The Museum of the Mountain Man has just two full-time employees.
The Museum of the Mountain Man is open daily May 1 through September 30 from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during their regular season. During the month of October, they are open weekdays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Cost for admission is $5.00 for adults, $4.00 seniors, $3.00 for children 6-12 years of age.
Click on this link for a printable PDF of the Sublette County Historical Society’s Strategic Vision document (16 pages, 1689K, March 2009)
For more information, contact the Museum of the Mountain Man at:
Museum of the Mountain Man
Laurie Hartwig - Executive Director
PO Box 909
Pinedale, WY 82941
Sublette County Historical Society Board Members
President: Jay Fear
Vice President: Dianne Boroff
Secretary/Treasurer: Janet Montgomery
J.D. "Sam" Drucker
Executive Director: Laurie Hartwig
Business Manager: Millie Pape