3. Buffalo Bill Museum & Grave (Golden, Colorado)
First off, it’s hard to beat the view from Lookout Mountain, where Wild West showman Buffalo Bill Cody and his wife are buried. We are expecting great things in the future from this museum, founded in 1921 by Johnny Baker, with a renovated timeline about Buffalo Bill’s life and a new building in the works. Yet what impressed us last year was a special exhibit, “Found in a Belgian Basement: Lakota Artifacts from the 1935 World’s Fair.” These pristine artifacts—including moccasins, beaded vests, breastplates and dresses—were taken to Brussels by Lakotas, who sold them after the fair to a local butcher. The exhibit of artifacts that had languished for nearly 75 years in a Belgian basement (hence the name) included photographs from the World’s Fair showing the items on display. The artifacts were acquired in 2003 by collector Francois Chladiuk, who came from Belgium to the February opening; also in attendance were a Lakota family member and the mayor of Brussels.