What are the best Jackson Hole museums?

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The best museums in Jackson Hole are the National Museum of Wildlife Art, the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum, and the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum. These are also the only three museums in Jackson Hole. The Colter Bay Museum is in Grand Teton National Park. The other two are in Jackson.

Founded over 50 years ago, the Jackson Hole Museum is a place where you can learn about Jackson’s all-women town council, as well as the Old West. Opened in 2011, the new Jackson Hole Museum is roomier, nicer and has even more exhibits than the old building. It is also open year round, which the old museum was not. Exhibits still capture the spirit and the culture of the early days of Jackson Hole, Grand Teton and the Yellowstone region. There is memorabilia from early dude ranching days, as well as valley homesteaders. There are also wildlife exhibits and cowboy and pioneer clothing for kids to play with.

In Grand Teton National Park, the Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum is partially closing for renovations and restoration after summer 2011. While the majority of the more than 2,000-item collection of Plains Indian artifacts in Tucson, Arizona are being restored, a few artifacts will be on exhibit in a much reduced space. Though Native Americans never lived year round in Grand Teton National Park, the museum’s collection was donated to the government by the Rockefeller family with the stipulation that it be displayed in GTNP. The pieces in the collection date mostly from the Reservation Period (1850 - 1880) and come from Central and High Plains tribes.

Over the past two decades, Jackson Hole has slowly become one of the largest art centers in the West and the National Museum of Wildlife Art — with a 4,000-piece permanent collection that includes works by artists from John J. Audubon to Picasso — is the art scene’s centerpiece. In 2012, an outdoor sculpture trail and terrace, designed by noted Oakland landscape architect Walter Hood, is set to open. Another way to enjoy the NMWA is at its Rising Sage Café, which serves sandwiches, salads, soups and sweets alongside sweeping views out over the National Elk Refuge.

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