western art museums true west
The Sid Richardson Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, is home to one of the most signifiant Charles M. Russell and Frederic Remington art collections in the world, including one of Remington’s finest—created in the last year of life—his 1909 oil on canvas Buffalo Runners-Big Horn Basin.
— Courtesy Sid Richardson Museum —

The best art museums don’t just show you art. They show you history. They show you personalities. They move you.

Our top museums certainly did that over the past year—and continue to do so. From celebrating the centennial of the Chisholm Trail to honoring everything from Fred Harvey to bandannas, these museums showed us what made the West great, showcasing artists of yesteryear and today who have kept that spirit alive with their own vision.

western art museums true west
Charles M. Russell’s 1917 oil on canvas, Buffalo Bill’s Duel with Yellowhand, is representative of the type of action-oriented Western art that philanthropist Sid W. Richardson preferred to collect, rather than classic Western landscapes, when he was building his collection in the 1940s and 1950s.
— Courtesy Sid Richardson Museum —

Sid Richardson Museum — Fort Worth, TX

Sid Richardson had an eye for Western art, collecting works by Charles M. Russell, Frederic Remington and others before his death in 1959. His namesake museum keeps its eye on art and history—to wit, the “Hide & Horn on the Chisholm Trail” exhibit which closed August 27. Since 1982, this museum has highlighted Western art and Western history. Few museums do it better.


western art museums true west
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, honors the heritage of the West through its vast collection of artisan materials, history exhibits, such as “Ranch Life (above),” and Western artwork.
— Courtesy National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum —

National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum — Oklahoma City, OK

Exhibits such as “Hell on Wheels: Uniting a Nation by Rail,” “The Artistry of the Western Paperback” and “A Yard of Turkey Read: The Western Bandanna” kept everything fresh and fun. And “Vintage Black Heroes: The Chisholm Kid” (closing September 17) and “We the People: A Portrait of Early Oklahoma” (closing October 22) are doing the same.


western art museums true west
The Wieghorst Western Heritage Center in El Cajon, California, is both a museum and educational center of Western art. The collection of masterpieces by Danish artist Olaf Wieghorst on display at the museum reflects his internationally acclaimed knowledge and passion for Old West history, American Indian culture and horses.
— Howard Bagley, Courtesy Wieghorst Western Heritage Center —

Wieghorst Western Heritage Center — El Cajon, CA

Denmark-born Olaf Wieghorst (1899-1988) was a stunt rider for the Danish circus before coming to America, where he served in the cavalry, cowboyed and taught himself to paint. His art is showcased here, where other artists, visual and performing, educate the public about Western history, art, culture and traditions.


western art museums true west
The Western art collection at the Stark Museum of Art in Orange, Texas, is renowned for its permanent exhibition of Taos Society of Artists’ masterpieces, including William Herbert Dunton’s 1934 oil on canvas McMullin, Guide.
— Courtesy Stark Museum of Art —

Stark Museum of Art — Orange, TX

One of the most underappreciated museums of art has an amazing collection of Western greats, and outstanding exhibitions such as “Branding the American West: Paintings and Films 1900-1950.” (Hurry, that exhibit closes September 9.)


western art museums true west
Albert Bierstadt’s The Last of the Buffalo, ca. 1888, is just one of the major pieces by 19th century masters, including Frederic Remington, Charles M. Russell and George Catlin, at the Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West.
— Courtesy Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Oil on Canvas 60.25 x 96.5 inches, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney Trust Fund Purchase. 2.60 —

Whitney Western Art Museum — Cody, WY

The Buffalo Bill Center of the West turns 100 years old this year. The Whitney Western Art Museum, one of the center’s five great museums, started in 1924 with the dedication of Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney’s sculpture Buffalo Bill—The Scout, and today houses works by 19th-century masters and 20th- and 21st-century artists following those footsteps or blazing their own trails.


western art museums true west
The American Indian Veterans National Memorial at the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, honors three centuries of Native veterans. Unconquered II, the last bronze by Allan Houser, an acclaimed Chiricahua Apache artist and Vietnam War veteran who was blinded in action, is one of several that grace the memorial courtyard.
— Craig Smith, Courtesy Heard Museum —

Heard Museum — Phoenix, AZ

The only North American stop for the “Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera” world tour, the Heard again inspired art-lovers and artists. Check out “Over the Edge: Fred Harvey at the Grand Canyon and in the Great Southwest” before it closes December 31.


Johnny D. Boggs plays poker in a monthly game that includes Western artist
Thom Ross and Santa Fe goldsmith Marc Howard.

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