Sunday, November 6, 2011

The museum that wasn't

I had another post planned for today, but as my readers know by now, I love to enumerate and the story I read late last night offers just that opportunity...

Above are photos* and below is a list of some of the 8,000 artifacts amassed by former 7-term Harrisburg mayor Stephen Reed in the hope that an exhibit of the same would draw tourists to the Pennsylvania capital:
  • a Conestoga wagon and a stagecoach
  • muskets, pistols, and ammunition, including a slug from the 1876 battle of Little Big Horn
  • Indian effigies
  • a tomahawk that may have been owned by Chief Crazy Horse
  • Native American art, a canoe, and a teepee
  • salmon dried by Eskimos and sold during the Klondike Gold Rush of 1896
  • period photographs and tintypes
  • an antique typewriter
  • cactus skeletons, some up to 10' tall
  • clothing, including hats and moccasins
  • household goods, including blankets, pottery, knives, and medicine bottles
  • Seventh Cavalry telescope and bugle
  • the gates to the OK Corral
  • Virgil Earp’s watch and badge
  • Wyatt Earp’s last saddle, shaving kit, and saloon table
  • Buffalo Bill’s megaphone
  • Doc Holliday's flask, coat, and shaving mirror
  • a wanted poster for Jesse James
  • a painting shot through by Calamity Jane
  • Annie Oakley's suitcase and tiara
  • a mounted bison
The city has invited appraisers and auction houses (and photographers) into the warehouse where the items have been stored. Auctions in 2007 and 2008 netted $1.66 million, so the city hopes this latest venture will recoup some of the $15 million in public funds that Reed spent to buy the collection. Since the imagined Wild West Museum never materialized, it is hoped that the income will chip away at the $300 million that Harrisburg owes debtors.

*Slideshows at,, and

1 comment:

  1. I think the saddest thing about this story is that the concept for the collection wasn't bad- a Wild West Museum would probably have been a big draw and in the long-term might have even become economically advantageous for the area. I wonder if it was a case of bad timing economy-wise, or if the guy underestimated the cost and effort that goes into museum planning...


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