Wednesday, May 15, 2019

A Visit to the National Museum of Wildlife Art

'Chief' by Robert Bateman

By Andrea Downing

'Buffalo Trail' by Richard Loffler
Set up on a ridge overlooking a wide expanse of the high plains, including the National Elk Refuge, and backing into the Teton front range, The National Museum of Wildlife Art blends into its setting so well, one might think the bronzes of various animals outside the main building are actually the animals themselves.  The  museum houses a collection of over five thousand artworks from more than five-hundred-fifty artists, spanning three centuries, and depicting worldwide wildlife.  The main attraction of the museum seems to be artist, hunter, and conservationist Carl Rungius, for whom the main road leading to the museum is named, and who is blessed with a separate gallery. 
A Rungius I liked!
I cannot say I’m a big Rungius fan; I find some of his works very much better than others, which to me appear flat and lifeless.  But that’s my personal opinion. There are certainly enough works by other artists to hold anyone’s interest, including such varied names as Audubon, Bierstadt, George Catlin, Edward Hicks, Georgia O’Keeffe, C.M. Russell, Thomas Moran, N.C. Wyeth, and (believe it or not!) Andy Warhol, along with pottery by native artists. There are also classrooms, a children’s gallery, conference rooms, a shop, and a restaurant.

Native Pottery depicting animals
To me the highlight of the visit was the outdoor sculpture trail, currently featuring twenty-one works of art with more expected to be added. One rather upsetting piece on the trail was ‘Lost Birds’ by Todd McGrain. This features
'Lost Birds'

an arrangement of several species now extinct, one from as early as 1878—the Labrador Duck.
'How Many Millions, One Can Only Guess' by N.C. Wyeth, a statement on the near-extinction of American Bison

One of 61 Peaceable Kingdoms by Hicks
While I enjoyed my visit and walk along the sculpture trail on a bright beautiful day, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of incongruity—looking at artwork of various animals when an ark-load of them are just down the road in the Grand Teton National Park.  Perhaps the answer for tourists is to combine the two visits, and get the most out of a stay in or near Jackson WY.
Thomas Moran
"Presidential Eagle' by Sandy Scott

'Black Timber Bugler' by Tim Shinabarger
All photos author's own


Patti Sherry-Crews said...

When we were in Jackson Hole we drove past this art museum up the ridge and I'd look wistfully at it as we sped by. We didn't have time to work it in that trip because as you say, there is so much natural beauty to take in around it. I was happy to see this post so I could get a glimpse inside. A Warhol, huh. Great images in your post. I think my favorite is "How Many Millions." Beautiful. At first glance the buffalo look like a big dark shadow.

Andrea Downing said...

Patti, so interesting you should pick that one because as I drove in and out of Mammoth Hot Springs the other day I could swear I saw the exact spot Wyeth had painted--but no buffalo that day. I asked to see the Warhol and, sadly, it was in storage--can't imagine what that's like!

Renaissance Women said...

There are always so many interesting and sometimes unusual places to see. I'd never heard of this one. Will have to stop next time I'm up there. Doris