David T. Vernon started collecting Native American artifacts as a boy in Illinois. His interest grew through the years and he eventually gained renown as an avid mid 20th-century collector with a personal collection that encompassed an amazing array of 10,000 objects. Late in his lifetime, Vernon sold part of his collection to Jackson Hole Preserve, Incorporated. In 1967, corporation president Laurance S. Rockefeller approached the National Park Service offering the loan of the collection. With the preserve providing major funding, the then-modern Colter Bay Indian Arts Museum was expanded specifically to exhibit the Vernon Collection. The museum opened in 1972 and Rockefeller donated the Vernon Collection to the park in 1976. The Vernon Collection is significant in its breadth– it contains 1,429 objects dated from between 1830 and 1940 and purchased and commissioned from more than 200 Indian tribes. Vernon did not limit himself to collecting only elaborately decorated, religious, or ceremonial objects; he included many items used in daily life, thus preserving a wide spectrum of Native American artifacts in what is now recognized as a unique collection of great social and cultural value.