Exhibit Journal

Carlsbad Museum and Art Center

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Ongoing until Sept. 8 ‘BISON’ travel exhibit

The traveling exhibit “BISON” stops its tour by the National Buffalo Foundation at the Carlsbad Museum & Art Center, 418 W. Fox St. Admission is free. The exhibit explores the past, present and future of the iconic North American mammal. For more information, visit bisonexhibit.org or call 575-887-0276.

Where history roamed: Carlsbad bison exhibit commemorates ‘iconic’ beast

They were hunted to near extinction.  By 1890, there were only about 300 remaining on the continent.  In the modern era, conservationists worked to restore the iconic animal back to its prominence.  People began raising bison again, hoping to control the population and reinvigorate the species.

Even media mogul Ted Turner began raising bison on his Vermejo Park Ranch, about 40 miles west of Raton in northern New Mexico.  To commemorate an animal that holds a constant presence in America’s early history, the Carlsbad Museum and Art Center opened a bison exhibit this summer, which is available until Sept. 8 at the museum.  Museum Director Dave Morgan said the interactive exhibit is meant to educate visitors and raise awareness for the animal’s fight to survive.  The exhibit offers several photos and images, along with an educational video, reading materials, games and even a sample of real bison fur for guests to feel.

An in-depth exploration of the exhibit, Morgan said, should take about an hour.  “It just tells the whole story of the American bison, from when it roamed the plains to today,” he said. “It’s a really thorough exhibit.”  Morgan pointed to the fame of the bison, and its prevalence in American culture from sports mascots to coins.  He said he hopes the exhibit will show people the importance of an animal almost lost to the brutal hunting practices of the past.  “The bison is basically found everywhere in the American fabric,” Morgan said. “What this exhibit is for is just to build awareness; not just the past of the bison’s history, but the future. There’s a lot of people trying to bring this animal back.”

Modern practices to restore the bison’s numbers are similar to those of Native Americans, who used the bison for myriad practical purposes.  Meat was food, bones were tools and the pelts were fashioned into blankets and clothing.  “It’s an exhibit you can’t just walk through and get,” Morgan said. “It tells the whole story.”