Top 6 Art Museums of the West 2016

The A.P. Hays Spirit of the West Collection at Western Spirit celebrates the history of the West through artwork, artisan collections and Western history exhibits. The Hayes collection of cowboy tack and gear, including spurs, hats, chaps and spur straps, is one of the most comprehensive in the world. – Courtesy Abe Hays Family Collection, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West –
The A.P. Hays Spirit of the West Collection at Western Spirit celebrates the history of the West through artwork, artisan collections and Western history exhibits. The Hayes collection of cowboy tack and gear, including spurs, hats, chaps and spur straps, is one of the most comprehensive in the world.
– Courtesy Abe Hays Family Collection, Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West –

 

Western art remains hot. Just look no further than the success of art shows such as the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum’s Prix de West and the Booth Museum’s For the Love of Art Gala. And the $11.4 million Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West has already earned international acclaim in less than two years.

Certainly, many art lovers visit our Top Art Museums of the year to admire the works of 19th-century masters, but these museums also understand that 21st-century artists are creating their own visions. The American West has always been about change, and these museums keep evolving to stimulate patrons—even those of us who can’t draw a stick figure.

Johnny D. Boggs recommends visitors to Santa Fe schedule a tour at the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. 

  1. WESTERN SPIRIT: SCOTTSDALE’S MUSEUM OF THE WEST
    Scottsdale, AZ

    A newcomer to the art scene
    (opening in 2015), this 43,000-square-foot, two-story venue in Old Town has
    quickly shot to the head of a talented pack of art museums. How? Well, the blend of history and educational programs is impressive, but you can’t beat the vision. As director Mike Fox says, “We are not a museum of objects, but a museum of ideas.”
    ScottsdaleMuseumWest.org

  2. WHITNEY WESTERN ART MUSEUM
    Cody, WY

    You don’t get to see just an amazing collection of artists representing then and now, but the reconstructed studios of Frederic Remington and Alexander Phimister Proctor and Joseph Henry Sharp’s original studio provide insight into those Western visionaries.
    CenterOfTheWest.org

  3. BRISCOE WESTERN ART MUSEUM
    San Antonio, TX

    The upcoming Ansel Adams: Distance and Detail Photographs
    from the Bank of America Collection” (September 15-December 15) is exciting, but this museum is always tremendous. Psssst. Tuesday nights are free from 4-9 p.m.
    BriscoeMuseum.org

    The Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, opened with great fanfare in 2013 and has quickly gained an international reputation as one of the finest Western museums in Texas and in the United States. – Courtesy Briscoe Western Art Museum –
    The Briscoe Western Art Museum in San Antonio, Texas, opened with great fanfare in 2013 and has quickly gained an international reputation as one of the finest Western museums in Texas and in the United States.
    – Courtesy Briscoe Western Art Museum –
  4. TUCSON MUSEUM OF ART
    Tucson, AZ

    While “Welcome to the American West!” highlights 200 years of Western art, we can’t wait to see The New Westward: Trains, Planes, and Automobiles That Move the Modern West” exhibit (October 15-February 12).
    TucsonMuseumOfArt.org

  5. STARK MUSEUM OF ART
    Orange, TX

    Art museums across America must be envious of this spectacular collection of the works of George Catlin, Alfred Jacob Miller, John Mix Stanley, Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Frederic Remington, Charles Marion Russell and other 19th- and 20th-century masters.
    StarkCulturalVenues.org

  6. C.M. RUSSELL MUSEUM
    Great Falls, MT

    Yes, there are great temporary exhibits on Glacier National Park artists and John James Audubon, but the focus is always on Charlie Russell, where you can step inside his log-cabin studio, built in 1903.
    CMRussell.org

    The Russell Riders Sculpture Garden at C.M. Russell Museum in Charles M. Russell’s adopted hometown of Great Falls, Montana, welcomes visitors to the internationally acclaimed gallery, and includes Joe Halko’s life-sized bronze of grizzly bears, Nose to the Wind. – Courtesy C. M. Russell Museum –
    The Russell Riders Sculpture Garden at C.M. Russell Museum in Charles M. Russell’s adopted hometown of Great Falls, Montana, welcomes visitors to the internationally acclaimed gallery, and includes Joe Halko’s life-sized bronze of grizzly bears, Nose to the Wind.
    – Courtesy C. M. Russell Museum –

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