Postcard Russell at Fort Belknap Indian danceThe Frederic G. Renner Library, located in the museum, is a noncirculating research library dedicated to the appreciation and study of the art and artists of the American West, Montana and Western history, and Charles M. Russell. The library’s collection reflects the strengths of the C.M. Russell Museum and supports the educational and research needs of its staff and academic researchers.

The library collection includes books, serials, auction catalogues, exhibition catalogues, vertical files, and nonprint resources. The Frederic G. Renner Library is currently developing its programs and services to make the collection more user-friendly. The materials are shelved in closed stacks, but are quickly retrieved for library users with appointments made in advance.

This beautiful research center was established in 1987 and dedicated to the memory of Frederic G. Renner. Renner, who died in 1987 at the age of 89, spent his lifetime researching and collecting everything possible about Charlie Russell’s life and art.

Hours are by appointment only. Please call (406) 727-8787 to schedule an appointment. Food and drink are not permitted in the library. Belongings may be checked in the museum’s coat-check room. Purses, bags, and backpacks may be subject to inspection when visitors are leaving.

fredrennerWho was Frederic G. Renner?

Great Falls native Frederic Gordon Renner (1897–1987) spent his lifetime researching and collecting everything possible about Charlie Russell’s life and art. His parents were friends of Charlie and Nancy Russell. Like other neighborhood children, Renner watched Charlie at work in his studio. He was intrigued by Charlie’s flamboyant dress, vibrant paintings, and personality.

Renner had two very successful careers, and his legacy lives on in both fields. He was recognized internationally as a specialist in soil conservation and range management. He worked for the United States Department of Agriculture and headed its Range Management division for 26 years until his retirement in 1961.

After retirement, Renner devoted all his time to his Russell research. His wife, Ginger, a Russell expert in her own right, often explained her husband’s dedication to the study of Charlie Russell as an accident of birth. “I was born in Great Falls, Montana,” he once said, as though this early proximity to the celebrated Cowboy Artist would be sufficient to explain his 75 years of searching, collecting, and recording Russell’s extraordinary artistic output. Renner traveled extensively for the USDA and was always on the lookout for Russell works and information. He was an extremely thorough researcher and always took careful notes, wrote accurate descriptions, and whenever possible documented his findings with photographs. He did not tolerate errors or their perpetuation.

Renner always willingly shared his knowledge of Russell. For this reason, it is most appropriate that our library honors his memory.

For more library and research information and to view and download request forms, please use the links below:

Appraisal Information >>

Library Research Request Form >>

Library Curatorial Questions Form >>

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