Buffalo Bill Center of the West Shares Its Extraordinary Collection in Two Exhibitions in Georgia

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For the next several months, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming, shares its extraordinary collection of artwork and artifacts with museums in Atlanta and Cartersville, Georgia.

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N.C. Wyeth's 'The Wild Spectacular Race for Dinner,' Go West! exhibition. 44.83

The art from this time period was instrumental in shaping our perceptions of the American West.

"Go West! Art of the American Frontier from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West" opens at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta November 3, and features artwork from the Center of the West’s Whitney Western Art Museum, as well as objects drawn from the collections of the Center’s other four museums. An exhibition of contemporary art runs concurrently at the Booth Western Art Museum in nearby Cartersville.

The larger of the two, "Go West!" includes a century of art—1830 to 1930—from the American West.

Highlighting the role of visual images in defining the idea of the frontier in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the exhibition features more than 250 works of art and artifacts including paintings, drawings, sculpture, photographs, posters, frontier firearms, and objects from Native American cultures.

Together the objects in "Go West!" showcase the exploration and settlement of the American West, and highlight the ways visual images and stories of explorers and legendary western celebrities like William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody continue to inform American identity and character today.

“The art from this time period was instrumental in shaping our perceptions of the American West,” says Mindy N. Besaw, the John S. Bugas Curator of the Whitney Museum at the Center of the West and co-curator of Go West!

“For example,” Besaw continues, “whether visitors to Yellowstone Falls realize it or not, their view of the panorama was informed and shaped by nineteenth-century images such as that by noted western artist Thomas Moran.”

Highlights of "Go West!" include artwork created for Buffalo Bill and his Wild West; majestic landscape paintings of the American West by the likes of Moran and Albert Bierstadt; two and three-dimensional works by cowboy artists Frederic Remington and Charles Russell; frontier firearms and promotional ads about them; Plains Indian objects; and large plate photographs by survey photographers such as William Henry Jackson.

"Go West!" demonstrates how, by the early twentieth century, these early representations and objects gave way to widespread perceptions of the West—and America’s growing romance with it.

The High’s Stephanie Mayer Heydt, co-curator of the exhibition, adds, “The exhibition strives to thoughtfully present visual representations from this period from multiple cultural vantage points. Stories of the West not only continue to permeate American culture today, but also influence our contemporary values of opportunity and innovation.”

An illustrated catalog published by the High in association with Yale University Press accompanies "Go West!"

The second exhibition, at the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, is drawn from the Whitney Museum’s contemporary collection. "Today’s West: Contemporary Art from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West" explores the artistic developments that have occurred in western art over the past 50 years and continue to evolve.

Today’s West! includes 60 contemporary masterworks in a variety of media, and shows that the West—real and imagined—still provides powerful stimuli for new generations of artists.

Represented in "Today’s West!" are artists tied to the Institute of American Indian Arts; Cowboy Artists of America members; and important living women artists as well. The installation also includes work by artists "who push the envelope of the western art genre" according to exhibition organizers.

"Go West!" and "Today’s West!" remain at their Georgia venues through April 13, 2014. For more information, see the "Beyond Our Walls" section of the Center's Web site.

Since 1917, the Buffalo Bill Center of the West has been committed to the greatness and growth of the American West, keeping western experiences alive. The Center, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, weaves the varied threads of the western experience—history and myth, art and Native culture, firearms, and the nature and science of Yellowstone—into the rich panorama that is the American West. The Center of the West has been honored with numerous awards, including the prestigious 2012 National Tour Association’s Award for “favorite museum for groups,” the 2013 TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence, and most recently, one of the “Top 10 Must See Western Museums” by True West magazine.

The Center is open 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily through October 31; 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily starting November 1. For more information, visit the Center's Web site or Facebook page.

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Nancy McClure

Mindy Besaw
Buffalo Bill Center of the West
since: 02/2010
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