Whitney Western Art Museum

Whitney Western Art Museum

Cars were first allowed in Yellowstone National Park in 1915, starting a popular new way to explore the park through auto tourism. In an effort to promote tourism in the park, artists were commissioned by auto tourism companies to help advertise Yellowstone National Park.

Whitney Western Art Museum

Rosa Bonheur was a famous French animal artist during the late 19th century. She's one of the few female artists in the Whitney Western Art Museum collection. Karen McWhorter, the curator, said the collection has many more contemporary women represented.

When a visitor enters the Whitney Western Art Museum one sculpture might confuse the visitor. Choosing of the Arrow by Henry Kirke Brown might remind people not of the West, but of a classic European sculpture. But Karen McWhorter, the curator of the museum, said it’s actually the first bronze case made in America in 1849. 

Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Museum Purchase. 5.79

When you think of epic Western landscapes, what comes to mind is probably those of Albert Bierstadt. Karen McWhorter, the curator of the Whitney Western Art Museum, said he stood out as a Western painter because he really brought 1800’s East Coast and European audiences to a scene they otherwise couldn’t imagine. 


Courtesy of the Tony Foster Foundation

The Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West hosted explorer artist Tony Foster for a week. For the past 35 years, Foster takes journeys to paint wild areas…many of them in the American West. Before his residency at the Buffalo Bill Center, he went on a rafting journey on the Green River. Wyoming Public Radio's Kamila Kudelska spoke with Foster to get a better understanding of what it means to be an explorer artist today.

Whitney Western Art Museum

 

In the 1820s, Native American diplomats traveled to Washington D.C. to negotiate peace deals with Americans. During that time period, the Superintendent of Indian Affairs, Thomas L. McKenney, commissioned portraits of hundreds of American Indian leaders.

Otto Eerleman (1839–1926). Buffalo Bill and the Wild West Show, ca. 1887. Watercolor, 27.25 x 38.625 inches (framed). Gift of Sue and Wes Dixon

A watercolor painted in the late 19th century features the Buffalo Bill Wild West Show in action. But the painting doesn't only document the historic show in London but also a new technology.

Frank Perely Fairbanks (1875-1939). An Apotheosis of A. Phimister Proctor, 1927. Oil on linen, 126.5 x 78.75 inches. Gift of Jonathan Fairbanks Richards in memory of Barbara Fairbanks Fite

Frank Perely Fairbanks was a classmate of Phimister Proctor’s, the famous American sculptor, at the American Academy in Rome.

Fairbanks, who was himself was a portraitist, admired Proctor greatly. So much so that he painted a monumental portrait of Proctor. Karen McWhorter, the curator of the Whitney Western Art Museum, said the painting doesn’t only portray Proctor but his family as well. 

Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming, USA; Gift in Memory of Hal Tate from Naoma Tate and the Family of Hal Tate, 9.05

Back in 2015, when Karen McWhorter just started her position as curator of the Whitney Western Art Museum, she was interviewed for a magazine.

One of the questions: what was her favorite painting in the Whitney’s collection? 

Don Stinson is a contemporary artist who uses traditional methods and materials. His painting “I-80 Energy Romance” portrays a western landscape, but also depicts a gas station sign, truck tracks, and windmills.

Proctor Self-Portrait, 1882. Oil on paperboard, 26 x 22 inches. Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, Wyoming. Gift of A. Phimister Proctor Museum with special thanks to Sandy and Sally Church. 2.16.9

Alexander Phimister Proctor was a known as the sculptor in buckskin. Born in Canada, he fell in love with the American West and most of his work featured the West. However, he didn’t only sculpt, he occasionally painted.

Kamila Kudelska

When museums have special exhibitions, what visitors don't know is that it takes years for the exhibit to evolve from a concept to the moment you are standing in front of that famous work of art. The Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West just opened its new exhibit featuring the famous Western American artist, Albert Bierstadt. But the process behind securing loans is not so easy.

Kamila Kudelska

It’s a weird story not often told at museums since it’s against the rules. But at the Whitney Western Museum of Art, there’s one painting visitors can’t resist touching.

David Blank

For the past three years, the Whitney Western Art Museum of the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody lent over eighty works of art from their main collection for a traveling exhibition: Go West! Art of the American Frontier

Since 2013, the Western American art exhibit traveled to Atlanta, Georgia, Omaha, Nebraska and Palms Springs, California. But on December third, Go West! Will open its’ doors for the last time at the Utah Museum of Fine Arts in Salt Lake City.

Historically, many museums have been neatly divided: by genre, by artist, by time period. Now curators are mixing up exhibits, so works are in conversation (or in contrast) with one another. A prime example is the Whitney Western Art Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West, in Cody. Curator Mindy Besaw explains why she displays old and new works side by side.