Charles M. Russell
The C.M. Russell Museum holds thousands of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and illustrations that Charlie Russell (1864-1926) created from childhood through the end of his life. Shown in a suite of five galleries, the works are arranged to show how the artist evolved, as well as to celebrate the culture of the American West. Charlie’s subjects were based on western history and his own experience, including cowboys, Plains Indians, and wildlife. Through his art, we learn about his life, first as a newcomer to Montana from St. Louis working with cattle outfits, to his decision to become a professional artist when he created masterpieces such as The Exalted Ruler, The Jerkline, and The Fireboat. Memorabilia from the Russell family completes this one-of-a-kind collection. Get to know Charlie Russell, beloved icon of the American West!
The Bison: American Icon, Heart of Plains Indian Culture is the C.M. Russell Museum's newest permanent exhibition. The Bison features over a 1000 objects, including Northern Plains Indian artifacts such as clothing, regalia, tools, and weapons, a wide variety of objects crafted from bison, and works of art highlighting Northern Plains Indian culture. This comprehensive exhibition addresses the crucial historical and cultural role of bison, for all people, in the Northern Plains between 1800 and 2008. It also examines the ways in which this impressive animal has emerged an an American icon. The importance of The Bisonis a critical part of the rich shared cultural heritage in Montana and the region. This exhibition examines the bison's importance not only in the lives of Plains Indians, but to a growing 19th-century economy; addressing the animal's sudden decimation and eventual resurgence. With regard to the Northern Plains, the exhibition traces the bison's transformation from everyday resource to iconic symbol, a shift that began to gain strength during the early reservation period in the late 19th-century. The exhibition traces a period of intense "consumption" of bison as a natural resource by new and growing populations, as well as a conservation movement, and development of the bison as a symbol of North America.
A friend of Charlie Russell’s, Olaf C. Seltzer (1877-1957) carried on the tradition of western painting. Seltzer, who emigrated from Denmark to Great Falls, shared Russell’s interests, and his works depict the varied cultures, stories, and images of the American West.
John Moses Browning (1855-1926) was one of the world’s most important and innovative gun makers. The Russell Museum’s outstanding Browning Firearms Collection includes rifles, shotguns, and handguns that survey the significant developments made by Browning and also the Winchester and Colt companies, with whom he worked.
Gary Schildt is a painter and sculptor who focuses on contemporary Northern Plains subjects. A Blackfeet descendent, he created an important cycle of forty-three paintings showing aspects of the Okan, or Blackfeet Sundance ceremony. Gary’s paintings are both documentary and beautifully impressionistic works of art.