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Friday, August 3, 2012

American Museum of Western Art

A month or so ago I found out through a friend of mine at work about the Anschutz Collection or as it is now being called, The American Museum of Western Art. The museum is only open to the general public on Mondays and Wednesdays and you must purchase the tickets online, in advance for either the morning tour or the afternoon tour, both of which are scheduled for 1.5 hours. I did not know exactly what to expect this past Wednesday when we went, but I was definitely pleasantly surprised. I want to spread the word on this little gem in downtown Denver.

The museum is housed in the Navarre Building, which is across from the Brown Palace, and has a history of its own. There are approximately 300 paintings hanging on 3 floors. The collection of Western art documents the westward expansion of the US so we start on the first floor with George Catlin in the early 1830's and it goes through the illustrations for James Fenimore Cooper and others of that genre into the late 1800's. So there are some NC Wyeth's, as well as Remington's and Russell's. I can't leave out the Thomas Moran's (I think his big painting is my favorite on the first floor), and Alfred Bierstadt.

On the second floor is what I was really there for. It included the Tao's painters, so this floor starts in the early 1900's. Much to my delight there was a feast for the eyes on the second floor, and I thought the first floor was pretty darn impressive. Here is a list, in no particular order of some of what you will find on the second floor
  • Birger Sandzen
  • Nicolai Fetchin
  • Gustave Baumann
  • Maynard Dixon
  • Georgia O'Keefe
  • Ernest Blumenshein
  • Burt Greer Phillips
  • Joseph Henry Sharp
  • E. Martin Hennings
  • E. Iriving Couse
  • Edward Hopper
  • Guy Wiggins
  • Childe Hassam
Plus I discovered a few new artists. I really fell for Walter Ufer's work and I love a painting by Carl Runglus. There were two amazing Grand Canyon paintings, neither of which did I recognize the artists name.

The third floor was different; housing mostly California painters, from early to more modern times, so quite a range of genre's. We were not allowed to take photos and there were no postcards for sale. Even though I recognized lots of artists that I am familiar with, most of the art in this collection I have not seen and would not have associated with the artist. For instance, a landscape in watercolor by Edward Hopper and an oil painting by Gustave Baumann, better known for his wonderful block prints.

I highly recommend you take a few hours to visit this museum and its collection. $10 admission fee.

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