Charlie Russell – America’s Cowboy Artist

Today we visited the C. M. Russell Museum complex located in what I call the heart of Great Falls. The museum”, Charlie and Nancy Russell’s home, and Charlie’s log studio are all on this one-block complex in their original location.

A few years ago the Russell Museum rehung all of Charlie’s art in chronological order. At the time I didn’t think it was a big deal but it really shows his growth as an artist. He lived, worked, painted and experienced the area we market as Montana’s Russell Country. Many of his paintings have scenic backdrops that are very visible today in northcentral Montana.

Everyone seems to have a favorite Russell painting. My favorites (yes, I get more than one!) are all of his illustrated letters. I could read them over and over. His dry wit and old fashioned charm come to life in many of these written-from-the-heart notes. Be sure to take some time to read through these sometimes hilarious, sometimes sad letters.

Another of my favorites is the Browning firearms collection in the museum. It’s nicely displayed and gives you a feel for what life could have been like when you hopped on your horse, firearm at your side, and went for a ride!

In honor of Charlie’s birthday in March, the Great Falls Advertising Federation sponsors the annual Russell Art Auction. You’ll see several Russell’s go on the auction block, along with a very impressive collection of other art. Check our calendar of events listings for more details.

The Russell Museum is open year round. From October 1st to May 1st they are closed on Mondays, otherwise open seven days a week.

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