History of the Old West comes alive in these galleries
The American cowboy created a reputation and iconic lifestyle that has been glamorized in countless works of art, books and music. Museums of Western art bring this lore to life. So, saddle up and get ready for an adventure when visiting the following museums where world-class art collections meet historical exhibits.
The Thomas Gilcrease Institute of American History and Art, commonly known as Gilcrease Museum, houses the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West, including unparalleled collections of Native American art and material. This museum, owned by the City of Tulsa, also houses one of the country’s most extensive collections of rare books, documents, maps and unpublished material related to the history of North America. “A visit to the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa opens the door for groups to American history and art,” said Todd Stallbaumer, consumer and trade marketing director for the Oklahoma Tourism and Recreation Department. “While touring the facility, groups have the opportunity to see the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of art and artifacts of the American West. A stop in the Helmerich Center for American Research turns you into the archivist for America’s vast history.”
Sid Richardson Museum
Located in historic Sundance Square in Fort Worth, Texas, the Sid Richardson Museum has one of the most significant private collections in the United States of paintings by Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell, Oscar E. Berninghaus, Charles F. Browne, Edwin W. Deming and William Gilbert Gaul, among others. This personal collection of legendary Texas oilman and philanthropist Sid W. Richardson captures the romance and ruggedness of the western United States in the late 1800s, a time when most Americans had little firsthand knowledge of the frontier. The museum is free and open daily, except for major holidays. A variety of programs are offered for groups, from lectures and in-depth engagements with the collection to movies and studio activities. Docent-led tours are free and available by appointment.
The Brinton Museum is located in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains on the historic 620-acre Quarter Circle A Ranch near Big Horn, Wyoming. Conveniently situated between Yellowstone and the Black Hills, it offers an authentic view into the life and lifestyle of a Western gentleman and art collector who was a friend of many of the most celebrated 19th- and 20th-century Western artists. It houses one of the most significant and extensive Western and American Art collections in the Rocky Mountain West. The historic Brinton Ranch House, built in 1892 and expanded by the Brintons to accommodate their extensive collections, is surrounded by the well-kept grounds, gardens and outbuildings such as a carriage barn, saddle barn, milk house, and Little Goose Creek Lodge. The Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Building now includes three floors featuring five galleries, a museum store, and the Brinton Bistro, which offers delicious food and picturesque, 180-degree views of the Bighorn Mountains. The museum is closed in the winter months and group tours must be scheduled in advance.
C.M. Russell Museum
With an extensive schedule of workshops, classes and tours, the C.M. Russell Museum is a hub of Western art located in Great Falls, Montana. It contains the art, artifacts and archival materials associated with Charles Marion Russell and other significant Western artists. The museum is nationally accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The museum opened in 1930, when the artist’s log cabin studio and gallery addition opened as the Russell Memorial. Today, the C.M. Russell Museum Complex fills an entire city block and encompasses 65,000 square feet of exhibition galleries and educational programming spaces. The museum complex includes the Russells’ original house and studio, a National Historic Landmark, the Frederic G. and Ginger K. Renner Research Center, the Candace and Jim Fish, Sr. Discovery Gallery and the Charlie Russell Riders Outdoor Sculpture Garden. The museum offers scheduled group tours which can be docent-led and customized upon request, focusing on a comprehensive overview of the entire museum collection or an in-depth look at one specific exhibition or body of artworks or objects.
Denver Art Museum
The Petrie Institute of Western American Art governs the Western American art collection at the Denver Art Museum, which encompasses two centuries of paintings, sculptures and works on paper related to the West. Currently, the north building is under renovation and the Western American Art galleries are closed. However, groups can still view select modernist works from the collection on view in the Dietler Gallery. Additionally, the cross-departmental exhibition Stampede: Animals in Art, includes works from the Western American art collection. The anticipated reopening of all spaces in the north building is 2021.
Desert Caballeros Western Museum
Located in the heart of historic Wickenburg, Arizona, the Desert Caballeros Western Museum houses a world-renowned collection of Western fine art and historic exhibits. Core to the museum collection are prized works of George Catlin, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Frederic Remington, Cowboy Artists of America and Taos Society of Artists. Works by Bill Owen, Maynard Dixon, Alan Houser, Mirna Harrison and more offer an enriching contemporary presentation. In addition to the art collections, groups can enjoy life-scale recreations of old 1905 Wickenburg and experience ranch life of the early settlers and real Wickenburg dude ranches. They can also discover local gold mining history and learn about the American Indian tribes of the Southwest by examining their tools and crafts. These museums highlight the cultural legacy of the American West by providing a glimpse of a strong, independent and romantic Western heritage.