Symposium Focuses On Ethics of Firearms In Museums

May 22, 2018

Credit Buffalo Bill Center of the West

This week the second symposium dedicated to firearm museums and collections is being held at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.

Last year marked the first time firearm collections and museums came together to discuss the industry. There are about two dozen prominent firearm collections and museums in the United States. This year the symposium concentrates on the ethics of firearms in museums.

Danny Michael, the assistant curator at the Cody Firearms Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, said there aren’t any resources out there for these institutions to get a better understanding of the legal and care requirements for firearms.

“Gun collection museums have long been the realm of the collector or hobbyists museums. In general, we’re only professionalized in recent history and firearm museums seem to be in the back end of that,” said Michael.

And he said there’s a whole host of ethical and legal concerns with firearms that many people don’t realize.

”People just sort of assume museums can have guns in the collection and are exempted from the laws surrounding them and they really aren't. We have to follow the laws like everyone else and it can get complicated and tricky really fast,” said Michael.

Plus, Michael said academics don’t seem to want to talk about guns in museums so he hopes the symposium can close that gap. In attendance are representatives from the NRA, the National Shooting Sports Foundation and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.