29. Frank Brownell Museum of the Southwest, Raton, NM ±600 guns, ±200 on display (33%). Established in 2008

Frank Brownell Museum Exterior
Frank Brownell Museum Case


The Wittington Center opened in 1973 and is dedicated to competition shooting, hunting, outdoor education and recreation. In 2008, Frank Brownell, CEO of Brownells, teamed up with the NRA’s National Firearm Museum to make a regional museum on its 35,000-acre site. The curatorial stance of the Brownell Museum is to narrate the history of the Southwest through firearms. Each era of its history from the Spanish Conquest, through America’s expansionist wars, to New Mexico’s current recreational outdoors economy, is on display. The Museum demonstrates America’s rich heritage of firearms as being part of everyday life.

The Brownell Museum is growing. Initially seeded with guns from the NRA, it is building up its own collection from strong regional donations. The collection draws from gifts of settlers’ guns found on the desert floor, lifelong collections of an individual’s specific interest, precious contemporary engraved firearms and ongoing gifts of ammunition collections. These include everything from 16th century Spanish Colonial wheel locks, the big game rifles of Mountain Men, 19th century guns from both sides of the Indian Wars, local outlaws and lawmen, Colt SAAs used by real cowboys as tools to wind up broken barbed wire fences, and polished one-of-a-kind competition guns. Additionally, the new generation of immaculate embellished guns are on display, including the work of master engravers such as Lisa Tomlin, Ron Reimer, Lee Griffith and the Nutmeg shop. They highlight modern techniques used to create articulate figurative scenes.

The Brownell Museum includes the Robert R. Rowe Ammunition Collection of 2,500 pieces from a collection of 10,000, openly accessible in chests of drawers. The paper and metallic ammunition is curated to display one example of every type and does not address head-stamps or bullet variations. The 12 gage shot-shell collection has thousands of examples from around the world. Shot-shells of other calibers will be displayed once cataloged.

Blue Skies and Ranges: The Whittington Center: Its impact on the Nation! Aloision Foundation (2013)
NRA Whittington Center