Question: How long have you worked for the Museum, and why do you love working here?
Answer: I have been here at the Cheyenne Frontier Days™ Old West Museum since January of 2001, which means I’m coming up on completing my second decade here, moving into my third, hard to believe, but actually the time has gone by so fast. I started as the Exhibits Manager at the beginning and then gradually moved to be the Curator of Collections here at the Museum, and I have been delighted and thrilled with the privilege and opportunity that working for this building has made for me. A remarkable thing is that I have never been bored here at the Museum, either working with the collections or working on the history of CFD. I really have to say the thing that keeps it fresh and always invigorating and fun is meeting the people who make sure Cheyenne Frontier Days™ happen.
Question: Cheyenne is your hometown. What does it mean to you to be able to work for this institution and preserve the history and this place?
Answer: When I got into the museum field there was no expectation that I would be coming back to my hometown. Most people think like I did growing up, history happens someplace else; it isn’t part of where I’m from. Being back in the city of Cheyenne has led me to a realization that our town has a significant heritage that has contributed far above the population that this town has. Cheyenne punches above its weight as far as its contribution to our local and national history, and being a part of that, especially talking about the history of Cheyenne Frontier Days™, which is the first rodeo type of celebration of its kind (and in my mind) still the greatest. This is a privilege and an honor to be involved.
Question: What is your most memorable moment as an employee here at CFD Old West Museum?
Answer: My most memorable moment here at the CFD Old West Museum is hard for me to define. Every year something new comes up and has become part of the epic tale of just being here whether it’s meeting celebrities like Charlie Daniels or whether or not it’s being able to see this Museum becoming the center point of the community in so many aspects. Or to see a successful art show or even something small: to see someone given an artifact with pride knowing that that is going to be part of Cheyenne Frontier Days™ heritage forever. There’s so much to say about what great moments happen here, and they can be large, or they can be small. They happen so frequently around here it’s hard for me to find which one is my most memorable.
Question: Mike, how does this Museum impact the community?
Answer: Well the Cheyenne Frontier Days™ Old West Museum when I first got started here was recognized as a local Museum that helped define what Cheyenne was or at least explain to people what Cheyenne, Cheyenne Frontier Days™, and the state of Wyoming was, but it seemed to be almost like grandma’s attic. In many ways, the Museum was presenting a small microcosm of what it represented. In the ensuing twenty years it has changed, developed, and grown to be significantly bigger and more important to our local community than it was when I first started here. Instead of being an institution that people would pass through and go “well, wasn’t that a quaint little local museum” we are now starting to move into an area where we’re becoming nationally significant because we focus on something that no other museum does which is the history and heritage of Cheyenne Frontier Days™ and the community that built it, and I think that the message in the mission has changed to the point and become so sophisticated that we are making waves far beyond the borders of our town and of Wyoming to become something that our nation will eventually be proud of.
Question: How has this Museum overcome challenges in the past and currently overcoming challenges?
Answer: The CFD Old West Museum has had lots of ups and downs as any institution has over four decades of existence. The one thing that always seems to keep the Museum functioning, surviving and thriving are the people that are involved from the level of our board members to the staff to the volunteers who come back regardless of circumstances. Everybody gives of themselves and gives a little extra measure of devotion in order to make sure that this institution thrives regardless of financial difficulties or problems with just about anything that comes up. This is a group of people that can overcome almost anything that’s thrown at them and we’re privileged to have the people working here at the moment and will always contribute to our continued functional greatness.
Question: And finally, why should people continue to support this Museum?
Answer: People should continue supporting the Cheyenne Frontier Days™ Old West Museum because the telling of the story is incomplete. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of what the potential is for the history and heritage of Cheyenne Frontier Days™ and our community on the nation as a whole. We have so many tales to tell and will only graze the surface like so many icebergs. What you can see is beautiful but there’s so much more that helps support them and keep them afloat below. I think we are only beginning in our entire journey and the first forty years was a steppingstone for the next forty. Where we’re going to be in the next forty years will be astonishing and I hope to be there to see it.