One of the best parts of my job is escorting journalists around north central Montana. We recently hosted someone from the United Kingdom who had never been to Montana before. He had spent some time at a Montana guest ranch right before coming to Great Falls so he was thinking cowboy! Our visit to the C. M. Russell Museum romanticized his view of the cowboy lifestyle even more.
Charlie Russell came to Montana when he was just 16 years old. He certainly tried to be a cowboy, a night wrangler, a trapper and probably a few other jobs.
Obviously the guy had a knack for art. From living the lifestyle of a cowboy he was able to accurately portray horses, cattle and wildlife. Charlie also spent time with Native Americans and many of his paintings portray area tribes, also with accurate detail.
The Russell Museum is located in a residential area and that is where Charlie and his wife Nancy lived. There is a huge collection of Russell works in a variety of media, Charlie’s log studio (my favorite) and the Russell home. You’ll see other artists, Charlie’s contemporaries, shown there too.
A favorite exhibit of mine is The Bison – An American Icon. The journalist I was hosting also liked this exhibit. It’s so fun seeing someone else appreciate the things you also like!
The Bison – An American Icon exhibit is located on the lower level of the Russell Museum. As you enter the exhibit you hear the sound of bison stampeding and the floor even feels like there is movement. There are many Native American artifacts displayed, and more artwork interspersed with the history of the bison. Very cool!
It was a great visit, more so because the journalist was as fascinated by Charlie Russell as I am.