I wouldn’t even venture to guess how many times I have been to the C. M. Russell Museum in Great Falls. Every time I visit the Russell I seem to learn something more about this amazing cowboy artist.
Right now my favorite exhibit is The Bison: An American Icon. This photo shows the centerpiece of the exhibit but there are many other notable features.
When you enter the exhibit you hear the thunder of bison hooves and it feels like the floor is vibrating from the stampeding bison. This alone takes you back in time to when bison roamed the plains area.
There are many drawers filled with displays under glass-cased artifact displays. You could spend a lot of time looking at everything.
When I was at the Russell Museum the other day I was with a group of museum operators from the midwest US. In addition to enjoying the displays, they were keenly aware of the behind the scenes work involved in presenting exhibits to the public.
I visited with one museum visitor who said his all time favorite Charlie Russell painting is the one titled Wagon Boss. You can’t take flash photos in the museum but we did take photos without using flash and this photo shows him capturing his favorite painting.
Several years ago all of Charlie’s artwork was rehung in chronological order. It’s interesting to see his growth as an artist when you start at the beginning of his career and follow it to the end.
Charlie came to Montana from Missouri when he was sixteen years old. We like to add on to that and say “we never gave him back”!
His log studio, his home and the gallery all occupy one full block in a residential area in Great Falls. The home and studio are in their original location.
The C. M. Russell museum was started after a local librarian left a gift to the city of Great Falls with the understanding that it would be displayed for the public. A museum was born!
That gift was a collection of letters written by Charlie Russell. He usually did a drawing on his letters and the collection of illustrated letters is also one of my favorites. His wit and humor are evident and you feel like you get a real glimpse into the artist.
This gallery shows framed illustrated letters hung on each side.
We didn’t have nearly enough time to read all of the letters but everyone enjoyed the artist’s wit and humor.
This museum is a special place and Great Falls is proud to house this amazing collection of Charlie Russell’s artwork.