Magazine article Humanities

In Focus

Magazine article Humanities

In Focus

Article excerpt

Wyoming's Marcia Wolter Britton

With almost three times as many cattle as people and spanning 97,809 square miles, Wyoming is frontier country.

"Some people who come to visit from more populated areas actually are frightened by the remoteness, but I think that for a lot of us who live in these western states, that's what we enjoy, the remoteness," says Marcia Wolter Britton, the executive director of the Wyoming Council for the Humanities.

While it might seem difficult to run a humanities program in such far-flung circumstances, Britton says that in many ways, it is just the opposite. She quotes her predecessor, who described Wyoming as one long main street where everyone knows one another.

"The cultural opportunities can be limited, but they are also more engaging because they are so important to the population in these states," she says. "So I think we tend to pay more attention to what we do have and treasure these experiences."

She believes that this kind of environment helps the council's visibility and pushes it to join forces with other cultural organizations.

Britton has worked with several humanities organizations and museums, most recently as the director of the state museum system in Nevada and at the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody, Wyoming. Before that, at the State Historical Society of North Dakota, she helped launch a program called Heritage Outbound, which brought together geologists, archaeologists, artists, and American Indian specialists to lead outdoor field trips for the public. She also helped to organize North Dakota's statewide local history council, which, among other projects, documented all church structures throughout the state with the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

In becoming the Wyoming council's director in 2003, Britton began a series of surveys in towns across the state to discover what topics were most important to Wyoming's citizens. …

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