Interview: Ashley Hlebinsky, Curator of the Cody Firearms Museum

Sorry about the sound quality! I did my best to clean it up, but the air conditioning system in the museum had a more significant impact on the video that I had anticipated.

Ashley Hlebinsky is the Curator of the Cody Firearms Museum, and today we are taking some time to discuss the museum and her job as Curator. Her path to the job began with an interest in battlefield medicine and a series of museum internships while studying American History and Museum Studies at the University of Delaware. A stint at the Smithsonian led her to a position at the Cody Museum, where she was groomed for the Curator’s office, taking over that job in early 2015.

In addition to curating the museum’s extensive collection, she speaks and writes regularly in mainstream academic circles about issues like the public perception of firearms, and acts as n excellent bridge between the ivory towers of academia and the knuckle-dragging ranks of gun owners (if I may make mostly-unfair stereotypes of both groups).

Under Ashley’s guidance, the Museum is in the process of undergoing a major expansion, to increase the number of firearms on display and improve the interpretive information provided about them.


  1. She’s not a shooter or a firearms expert, and curating an important museum on firearms. Right.

    Museum Studies…WTF IS THAT? She got the job by PC politics and knowing the right people.

    She’s not qualified. This is like someone claiming they can teach mathematics or history because they have a degree in educcation; it falls flat every single time.

  2. Polymarcos, you might want to spell your insults about someone’s education correctly.

    And you might want to get a clue, too. She doesn’t shoot for a living, she runs a museum. Who trusts you with a multi million dollar responsibility?

    Ian, you might turn on moderation so it doesn’t look as though ALL your commenters are ignorant, stupid, or worse.

  3. Clearly you don’t have to be a white guy with a beard to know stuff about guns. Something we would all do well to keep in mind.

  4. I’m glad to see a person in this position that’s both young and enthusiastic. Looking forward to the new expansion, this fantastic collection deserves it. ^__^

    I am also glad that this collection has not suffered the fate of the Colt collection at the Museum of Connecticut History in Hartford. The trick pulled on them by R. L. Wilson was an unforgivable crime against posterity. One of the things that makes the Cody museum so valuable to firearms research is the so-called “duplicates” which are not duplicates at all if you bother to take a close look.

    Perhaps Ian’s work with this museum will help the Smithsonian curator of firearms realize that their exclusive deal for video is a misguided mistake.

  5. What an exceptionally well-spoken young lady. The Cody Firearms Museum is lucky to have her. You really need to see if she will do that interview again with better audio.

  6. Interesting Museum, in a fascinating place. I caught sight of a few interesting posters on the walls of the museum. WW1 recruiting posters, I think. Thought I saw a Winchester one,

    that isn’t it but it’s still apt, topical like. I read in a book called the Cartoon History of the United States that Cody was employed to provide food for an Army of railroad workers, buffalo. Given the fact Indians in the area depended on buffalo, I did wonder if that was the purpose of building a railway, really- Decimate the buffalo, thus Indians, given they sent Cody out instead of bully beef barrels etc. Unless it was a coincidence, but I mean there wasn’t much out there. Mainfest destiny aside, sea to shining sea etc.

    • Seconding the need for subtitles there. I tried as hard as I could, but with English as my second language I just couldn’t parse some things through the background noise. 🙁

  7. Yes, she is gorgeous, but if you listen to her, she is also knowledgeable and enthusiastic. A Masters in Museum Studies is no easy accomplishment. It is awesome to see a young lady that is so enthusiastic and knowledgeable of firearms. We need more like her and I am glad she is taking care of this fantastic collection. Keep up the good work Ian, can’t wait to see more from this amazing collection!!

    • Hear, hear, clap, clap. Well said, and i’m all for crowdfunding, etc. I just happen to be essentially bankrupt, speaking of which… I have, opened… He he. Haven’t really.

    • I agree. This is more about cataloguing and preservation; technical detailed knowledge is of secondary importance. And shooting? Pfff, why?

  8. Remarkable lady; short in stature but tall in diligence and commitment. This looks like long term relationship.

    • The article said that Ashley Hlebinsky was a competitive ballroom dancer, and while I know nothing about that particular “sport”, I would assume that it’s probably similar to gymnastics or figure skating, which — unlike shooting guns — favors small people. And while it might have appeared that dancing and shooting skills would have nothing in common, Orlando proved otherwise.

      • I am not sure if dancing favours ‘short’ people, but it certainly does not limit them. I did it some time back for fun and I am 6ft tall. What is astounding though that with every size of body, providing it is fit, can be achieved incredible feats. That’s the ingenuity of human creation.

  9. “You really need to see if she will do that interview again with better audio.”

    “Seconding the need for subtitles there. I tried as hard as I could, but with English as my second language I just couldn’t parse some things through the background noise.”

    Rather than redoing the interview (probably too late anyway) or adding subtitles, I’d suggest filtering out the background noise. Most audio editing software has that feature, which is especially effective at removing HVAC noise and other narrow bandwidth or repeating-waveform type background noises. Site visitors who like to tinker can easily do this themselves in Audacity or other free programs (no need to spend $$$ for professional audio software) — though it helps immensely to have a few seconds of “silence” at the beginning or end of an interview for sampling.

    Of course, using a cheap clip-on microphone would have been a far better solution 😉

  10. Hi Ian. I think you might revisit The Cody Museum. If you do please ask Ashley about Winchesters part in the design of the Japanese Murata rifle. I believe Winchester furnished all the tooling to set up Japan’s first Murata factory. I foolishly passed a chance to purchase a winchester marked Murata receiver years ago.

  11. Two points.

    My first thought was acute jealousy over a “cute lil piece a fluff” getting a dream job like this………. But then I thought about it a bit and realized that she is well on her way to becoming one of the most important people in the North American firearms field. By BEING a “cute lil piece a fluff” who is also very intelligent, well spoken, classy, well educated AND not only knowledgeable about guns but also enthusiastic about them. She caps this off by being able to pass that knowledge and enthusiasm on to the great unwashed masses. POSITIVE info and vibes about us….. Unbelievably important.

    Secondly, Ian’s work with firearms history is incredibly valuable. His Forgotten website is wonderful.

    It is not an overstatement to say that these two young people are hugely important to the entire firearms hobby/industry/history and it future. Well done, you two ;-).

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