CODY, Wyo. – The Buffalo Bill Historical Center has named Robert E. Shimp, president of McMurry University in Abilene, Texas, as its new director.

Shimp will start work April 1 at the complex of museums and galleries dedicated to Western art and culture.

“I’m absolutely delighted,” Shimp said in a telephone interview Thursday. “This is probably the best opportunity in the museum world today.”

The museum has been without a permanent director since October.

“We feel we found just the right person for us at this time in our long history,” said Al Simpson, chairman of the center’s board of directors.

New to the museum business, Shimp, 59, said his background in education, which includes teaching and administration, will help him in his new job.

He said he hoped to increase visitor numbers through aggressive marketing and the opening of the center’s new addition, the Draper Museum of Natural History, scheduled for June 4.

Shimp said he was impressed when he visited the center about a month ago.

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“It’s a fantastic set of collections with extremely talented people from all over the U.S.,” he said.

The 237,000-square-foot Buffalo Bill Historical Center includes the Whitney Gallery of Western Art, the Buffalo Bill Museum, the Plains Indian Museum, the Cody Firearms Museum and the McCracken Research Library.

The $17 million Draper wing will add about 500,000 square feet to the center.