The C.M. Russell Museum received an anonymous contribution of $575,000 that enabled the museum to purchase two Charles M. Russell watercolor paintings. These two pieces appeared in The Russell Live Auction on March 21, 2015, and have been added to the C.M. Russell Museum’s permanent collection.

L164 RUSSELL Cowboy on a bay horse

Charles M. Russell (1864-1926), Cowboy on a Bay Horse, c. 1895, watercolor, 13 3/4 x 19 3/4 inches, museum purchase with funds donated by anonymous donor

Cowboy on a Bay Horse, c. 1895, is one of more than two dozen known equestrian portraits Russell produced of individual range riders during his productive career. Although the identity of the confident cowpuncher is unknown, Russell often portrayed pals with whom he had ridden the range, according to B. Byron Price, director of the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West at the University of Oklahoma.

L212 RUSSELL An Indian War Party

Charles M. Russell (1864-1926), An Indian War Party, 1902, watercolor, 7 x 7 3/4 inches, museum purchase with funds donated by anonymous donor



An Indian War Party, 1902, was created during the heyday of the artist’s production. The painting numbers among the 230 finished watercolors Russell painted from 1896 to 1909. Native American subjects dominated his output during this time, numbering 155 works, about 67 percent of his total production.






Charles M. Russell: The Legacy of America’s Cowboy Artist


Charles M. Russell (1864–1926), Breaking Camp, 1897, watercolor (C.M. Russell Museum, gift of Great Falls Businessmen)

Charles M. Russell: The Legacy of America’s Cowboy Artist, celebrating 60 years of the C.M. Russell Museum, will be on view until early February 2014.  
The C.M. Russell Museum’s extensive permanent collection of Russell oil paintings, watercolors, bronzes, clay models, illustrated letters, pen-and-ink drawings, and published illustrations has been reinstalled in five galleries to showcase the astonishing depth and range of Charles M. Russell (1864–1926). Although it is not possible to display all 700 works in the Russell collection at one time, the art currently on view nonetheless demonstrates the remarkable artistic evolution of a largely self-taught genius.




Charles M. Russell (1864–1926), Meat for the Wagons, 1925, watercolor, (C.M. Russell Museum, gift of Frederick G. and Ginger Renner in memory of Graham D. Renner)

Arranged in roughly chronological order, the reinstallation begins with the primitive paintings and drawings of Russell’s boyhood and ends with the masterpieces he produced near the end of his life. The exhibition identifies and then expands upon the three major themes that occupied Russell throughout his career: vivid images of cowboy life, Indian life and customs, and wildlife of the Northern Plains. Through amazing leaps in artistic skill and ever-increasing sophistication, Russell’s accomplishments can be seen to grow in stature from folk art to American masterpieces.



The C.M. Russell Museum holds hundreds of paintings, sculptures, drawings, and illustrations that Charlie Russell (1864–1926) created from childhood to the end of his life. Displayed in 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 very own personal experience, reflecting themes of cowboy life, Northern Plains Indian life, and wildlife. Through his art, we learn about his life history, first as a newcomer to Montana from St. Louis working for cattle outfits and then as a professional artist who 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 bisonTHE BISON: American Icon, Heart of Plains Indian Culture [TEMPORARILY CLOSED DUE TO FLOOD DAMAGE]

The Bison: American Icon, Heart of Plains Indian Culture features more than 1,000 Northern Plains Indian artifacts such as clothing, regalia, tools, and weapons, as well as works of art highlighting Northern Plains Indian culture. This comprehensive exhibition addresses the crucial historical and cultural role of the bison for all people in the Northern Plains between 1800 and 2008. It also examines the ways in which this impressive animal has emerged as an American cultural icon.

The bison is a critical part of the rich shared cultural heritage of Montana and the surrounding region. This exhibition examines the bison’s importance, not only to the lives of Plains Indians, but also to a growing 19th-century national economy, leading to 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 follows a period of intense consumption of bison as a natural resource by new and growing populations, the development of a conservation movement, and the emergence of the bison as a symbol of North America.

browning guns cmrm collectionTHE BROWNING FIREARMS COLLECTION

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 the Colt and Winchester companies, with which he worked.

All media © C.M. Russell Museum, all rights reserved. (406)-727-8787