When the “Gunfighter” comes to the Hubbard Museum of the American West this summer, it will be the latest in a string of impressive displays that have made this Smithsonian Institution affiliate a major contribution to the cultural heritage of the horse and the American West.
The Hubbard, on Highway 70 in Ruidoso Downs, New Mexico, is one of America’s newer history museums. Founded in 1989 to handle the extensive personal art collection of R.D. and Joan Dale Hubbard, it quickly expanded and offers five major features:
• The Museum of the Horse exhibits 10,000 objects from the Anne C. Stradling Collection, including bits, spurs, bridles and saddles from around the world.
• The Ruidoso Downs Race Horse Hall of Fame opened in 1997 with one of the most extensive collections of horse racing artifacts. The track is home to the $2 million All American Futurity, the world’s richest and most coveted Quarter Horse race.
• The annual Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium has been operated by the museum since 1995. Poets and musicians perform almost nonstop, and a highlight is the world-renowned chuck wagon cookoff. The symposium has been touted as the “nation’s leading cowboy heritage event.”
• The Billy the Kid National Scenic Byway Visitors Center is operated by the museum and the village of Ruidoso.
• Historic Lincoln has landmark buildings with historical ties to Billy the Kid, Pat Garrett, Lew Wallace, the Buffalo Soldiers and cattleman John Chisum. Several properties are currently being preserved through a “Save America’s Treasures” grant from the National Park Service.
The newest addition to the museum’s list of accomplishments is “Gunfighter—Historic Insight into the Lawmen and Outlaws of the American West,” which opens May 24 to Oct. 26 and is presented in collaboration with True West.
The exhibit will include materials from the collections of Robert G. McCubbin, publisher of True West; Bob Boze Bell, the magazine’s executive editor; Phil Spangenberger, gun expert and True West field editor; Texas Rangers Museum; Arizona Historical Society and Wells Fargo Museum.
The central figures profiled in “Gunfighter” include the Earp brothers, Black Jack Ketchum, Pat Garrett, John Wesley Hardin, the James Boys, Elfego Baca, Doc Holliday, Wild Bill Hickok, Butch Cassidy, Black Bart, John Ringo, the Dalton Gang, Luke Short, Bill Doolin, King Fisher, Deacon Jim Miller, Pearl Hart, Tom Horn, John Kinney, the Mastersons, Jeff Milton, Bill Miner, John Selman, Henry Starr, Dallas Stoudenmire, Ned Christie and both the Texas and Arizona Rangers. And, of course, Billy the Kid.
The lecture series includes Leon Metz, author and outlaws-lawmen historian; Drew Gomber, author and Billy the Kid authority; Herb Marsh, author and expert on Lincoln history; Phil Spangenberger, firearms expert and upcoming gun columnist for True West and Bob Boze Bell, Western author and artist.
The Hubbard Museum of the American West, one of New Mexico’s most significant museums and its only Smithsonian affiliate, is worth a visit, whether there’s a gunfighter in sight or not.
For more information, go to the museum’s website at www.hubbardmuseum.com or call 505-378-4142.