The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003 Page: 159
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of a vigilant, kneeling Crockett that graced the 1853 clipper ship Davy Crockett;
and in the stills and advertisements from movies based, however loosely, on his
life. In between are period pieces such as more than a half dozen genuine and
movie-prop Bowie knives from the collection of Joseph Musso, and a stuffed
black bear. Standing on its hind legs in a case in a wall that allows it to be viewed
from two sides, the bear first is seen in association with objects and events of
Crockett's life on the southern frontier. Further on in the exhibit, the visitor
sees the bear again, but this time in association with Western exemplars as
George Armstrong Custer and Theodore Roosevelt. From either vantage point,
the visitor cannot help but also look past the bear. On first encounter, the visitor
sees the southern frontier setting with a glimpse of the Crockett of legend rising
behind the bear. Later the order is reversed when the bear is integral to a dis-
play on Western heroes, behind which are glimpses of the man whose exploits
formed the basis of legend. Several such subtle but effective opportunities,
designed by Chief of Exhibits Pony Allen, to look past the theme or period of
the objects in the visitor's foreground challenge the visitor to consider and strive
to keep separate Crockett the man and Crockett the legend.
In layout, the exhibit starts the visitor in a living room of the 1950s with a
black and white console television running a clip from Walt Disney's production
of Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier and a child's bedroom outfitted, primari-
ly from the collection of Murray H. Weissmann, with every imaginable toy, piece
of clothing, furniture, and thing (my favorite being a toothbrush) on which the
name Davy Crockett could be placed and then sold. The path through the
exhibit next introduces the visitor to David Crockett the man, tracing his life
from his childhood in Tennessee, through his military career fighting Indians
on the southern frontier, his service in Congress, and finally his death at the
Alamo. As during Crockett's life, even before leaving Crockett the man, the visi-
tor begins to meet Crockett the frontier hero. The image shortly is solidified in
the presentation of clothing and objects associated with familiar frontier heroes
and heroines of the likes of Annie Oakley and Buffalo Bill Cody. Finally, the visi-
tor is returned to the late twentieth century, marked first by Hollywood depic-
tions of Crockett by Walt Disney and John Wayne, and then by shelves of yet
more and different Crockett souvenirs (my favorite this time being a Davy
Crockett camera). No one could have said it better than one wide-eyed young
boy who exclaimed: "Wow, that Davy Crockett sure had a lot of toys!"
No modern museum, especially a family-oriented institution as the Texas State
History Museum, defines its purpose any longer as merely assembling and inter-
preting objects, even punctuating the presentation of those objects with sound
and visual imagery, as is done in the Crockett exhibit with sound stations running
pertinent clips from the History Channel presentation of Boone and Crockett: The
Hunter-Heroes. Those who enjoy history told by character actors will find live actors
portraying Crockett in "Davy Crockett in Texas" in the Spirit Theater on the sec-
ond floor. On three Thursdays in June, July, and August, successive movies from
the silent era through John Wayne's The Alamo provide the opportunity simulta-
neously to be entertained and to study portrayals of the life and legend of Davy
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 106, July 2002 - April, 2003, periodical, 2003; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101223/m1/187/: accessed March 23, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.