Victor Higgins, Taos, New Mexico, about 1921. Oil on canvas; 52 x 56 in. Gift from Dr. George C. Peck and Catherine M. Peck, 2013.462

Petrie Institute of Western American Art

Victor Higgins, Taos, New Mexico, about 1921. Oil on canvas; 52 x 56 in. Gift from Dr. George C. Peck and Catherine M. Peck, 2013.462

Collection Highlights

Charles Bird King

Hayne Hudjihini (Eagle of Delight)

Charles Bird King, Eagle of Delight, about 1822. Oil on panel; 17 x 13 in.
William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, 2001.462

Long Jakes, "The Rocky Mountain Man"

Charles Deas

Long Jakes, "The Rocky Mountain Man"
Charles Deas (American). Long Jakes, "The Rocky Mountain Man". 1844. Oil paint on canvas. Jointly owned by the Denver Art Museum and the American Museum of Western Art---The Anschutz Collection. Purchased in memory of Bob Magness with funds from 1999 Collectors' Choice, Sharon Magness, Mr. & Mrs. William D. Hewit, Carl & Lisa Williams, Estelle Rae Wolf - Flowe Foundation and the T. Edward and Tullah Hanley Collection by exchange. 1998.241.
Yosemite

Thomas Hill

Yosemite

Thomas Hill, Yosemite, 1865. Oil paint on canvas; 30 x 44 in. Denver Art Museum: Funds from Henry Roath, 2019.539.

Thomas Moran

Sunset, Green River Butte

Thomas Moran, Sunset, Green River Butte, 1915. Oil on canvas; 10 ¼ x 12 ¼ in.

The Roath Collection, 2013.110

Frederic Remington

The Broncho Buster

Frederic Remington, The Broncho Buster, modeled 1895 (cast before May 1902), bronze (Roman Bronze Works, Cast number 12); 23 1/4 x 22 x 13 in. Gift of the Roath Collection at the Denver Art Museum, 2013.91. Photography © Denver Art Museum

Charles Marion Russell

In the Enemy's Country

Charles Marion Russell, In the Enemy’s Country, 1921. Oil on canvas; 24 x 36 in.
Gift of the Magness Family in memory of Betsy Magness, 1991.751

Victor Higgins

Taos, New Mexico

Victor Higgins, Taos, New Mexico, about 1921. Oil on canvas; 52 x 56 in.
Gift from Dr. George C. Peck and Catherine M. Peck, 2013.462

E. Martin Hennings

Rabbit Hunt

E. Martin Hennings, Rabbit Hunt, about 1925. Oil on canvas; 35 ½ x 39 ½ in. Denver Art Museum: William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, 2001.449

 

Robert Henri

Tom Po Qui (Water of Antelope Lake/Indian Girl/Ramoncita)

Robert Henri, Tom Po Qui (Water of Antelope Lake/Indian Girl/Ramoncita), 1914. Oil on canvas; 40 ½ x 32 ½ in. William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection at the Denver Art Museum, 2001.461. 

Marsden Hartley

New Mexico Recollection #6

Marsden Hartley, New Mexico Recollection #6, 1922. Oil on canvas; 25 ¼ x 35 ½ in.
Denver Art Museum: William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, 2001.455

Kenneth Miller Adams

Reapers (Harvest)

Kenneth Miller Adams, Reapers (Harvest), 1946. Oil on canvas; 40 x 32 in.
Denver Art Museum: Gift from Dr. George C. Peck and Catherine M. Peck, 2013.466

Ethel Magafan

Springtime in the Mountains
Ethel Magafan (American). Springtime in the Mountains. c.1961. Tempera painting on board. Julie and Robert Lewis Collection. 2018.656.

See more Western American art

Browse objects from the Western American art collection in our online collection.

Department History

The Denver Art Museum has collected and exhibited Western American art for more than sixty years. In the 1950s, led by Royal Hassrick, the museum’s first curator of Western art—and with grants from the Boettcher Foundation, the Frederick G. Bonfils Foundation, the Fred E. Gates Fund, and the Lawrence Phipps Foundation—the museum purchased a group of exceptional works by early artists in the American West including William Jacob Hays and Alfred Jacob Miller. Important acquisitions and gifts continued through the years, with the addition of significant work by Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, Frederic Remington, Charles Marion Russell, and Charles Deas.

In 2001, the museum received a transformative gift of western American art from William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen that substantially broadened the museum’s holdings. Joan Carpenter Troccoli, PhD, previously director of Gilcrease Museum, joined by associate curator Ann Daley, established an Institute of Western American Art and initiated the annual publication of the scholarly journal Western Passages. After an extraordinary lead gift from Tom and Jane Petrie to partially endow the department in 2007, the institute was renamed the Petrie Institute of Western American Art, and by 2010, the Petrie Institute was fully endowed with donations from dozens of contributors. With this endowment, the institute is able to continue sponsoring symposia, speakers, and publications that further our knowledge of Western American art.

In 2005, longtime museum director Peter H. Hassrick (son of Royal Hassrick) came out of retirement to "finish some family business" by becoming curator and director of the institute. He introduced an annual symposium that remains a signature program for the institute. In 2009, Thomas Brent Smith became the director and curator of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art. Under his leadership, the department has embarked on an ambitious program of exhibitions and publications. In 2016, Jennifer R. Henneman, PhD, joined the curatorial team and began organizing exhibitions and expanding the collection through acquisition of works by women and artists of color.

Denver collector Henry Roath made a game-changing gift when he donated more than 50 western paintings and sculptures in 2013. Strong in work by the Taos Society of Artists, the Roath Collection includes paintings that are among those artists’ best. In 2014, the museum further expanded its holdings by acquiring, through gift and purchase, the collection of Dr. George C. and Catherine M. Peck, which further strengthened the museum’s holdings in Southwestern paintings. Another significant strength of the collection is due to the efforts of the Contemporary Realists group (now DAM Westerners), founded by James Wallace, which over the past twenty-five years has added more than sixty artworks to the collection by artists from our region who choose to work in a representational mode. Additionally, the department has compiled an unparalleled collection of bronzes, including what many consider to be Frederic Remington’s single greatest cast, The Cheyenne, the iconic End of the Trail by James Earl Fraser, and a group of works by nationally renowned Denver artist Alexander Phimister Proctor.

Always working diligently to expand the collection in compelling and exciting ways, the department hopes to further its reach by including works by artists of the Pacific Northwest and California, as well as collecting additional works by women and under-represented artists, which will celebrate the intrinsic diversity of the American West and tell a richer and more complete story of the region’s artistic legacy.

Publications

Since its inception, PIWAA has actively published significant contributions to the field of western American art, including award-winning exhibition catalogs. Western Passages, its signature scholarly series, includes essays on the art of the American West by curators and historians. A collection catalog, The American West in Art, provides an updated account of our growing collection with wide-ranging essays by Thomas Brent Smith, Jennifer R. Henneman, and Molly Medakovich.

Publications:

West Point Points West, Vol. 1 of Western Passages (Denver Art Museum, 2002)

Sweet on the West: How Candy Built a Colorado Treasure, Vol. 2 of Western Passages (Denver Art Museum, 2003)

Redrawing Boundaries: Perspectives on Western American Art, Vol. 3 of Western Passages (Denver Art Museum, 2007)

Heart of the West: New Painting and Sculpture of the American West, Vol. 4 of Western Passages (Denver Art Museum, 2007)

Colorado: The Artist’s Muse, Vol. 5 of Western Passages (Denver Art Museum, 2008)

Peter H. Hassrick and Elizabeth J. Cunningham, In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2008)

Carol Clark, Charles Deas and 1840s America, Vol. 4 of The Charles M. Russell Center Series on Art and Photography of the American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009)

Joan Carpenter Troccoli, ed., The Masterworks of Charles M. Russell: A Retrospective of Paintings and Sculpture, Vol. 6 of The Charles M. Russell Center Series on Art and Photography of the American West (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2009)

Charlie Russell and Friends, Vol. 6 of Western Passages (Denver Art Museum, 2010)

Shaping the West: American Sculptors of the 19th Century, Vol. 7 of Western Passages (Denver Art Museum, 2010)

Thomas Brent Smith, ed., Elevating Western American Art: Developing an Institute in the Cultural Capital of the Rockies, Vol. 8 of Western Passages (Denver Art Museum, 2012)

Thomas Brent Smith, ed., Rocky Mountain Majesty: The Paintings of Charles Partridge Adams (Denver Art Museum, 2013)

Decades: An Expanded Context for Western American Art, 1900–1940. Vol. 9 of Western Passages (Denver Art Museum, 2014)

Thomas Brent Smith and Thayer Tolles, eds., The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925 (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013)

Thomas Brent Smith, ed., A Place in the Sun: The Southwest Paintings of Walter Ufer and E. Martin Hennings (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2016)

Mary-Dailey Desmarais and Thomas Brent Smith, eds., Once Upon a Time . . . The Western: A New Frontier in Art and Film (Denver: Denver Art Museum; Milan: Five Continents Editions, 2017)

Maggie Adler, Diana Greenwold, Jennifer R. Henneman, and Thomas Brent Smith, Homer Remington (Fort Worth: Amon Carter Museum of American Art; Denver: Denver Art Museum; Portland: Portland Museum of Art, Maine, 2020)

Thomas Brent Smith and Jennifer R. Henneman, eds. The American West in Art: Selections from the Denver Art Museum, Vol. 10 of Western Passages (Denver: Denver Art Museum; Milan: Five Continents Editions, 2020)

Symposia

In 2007, former director of the institute Peter H. Hassrick initiated the Petrie Institute of Western American Art’s annual symposium. Each year, invited scholars of art and history present their thoughts and research on an array of topics related to the art of the West to enthusiastic audiences.

For more information, email symposium@denverartmuseum.org.

Current and paste symposia includes:

2021: Great Women and the Arts of the West

2020: Natural Forces: Winslow Homer and Frederic Remington

2019: Familiar Images: Icons of International Frontiers

2018: Beyond America’s Heartland: Regionalism and the Art of the American West

2017: Set in the West: Telling Tales in Art and Film

2016: Walter Ufer and E. Martin Hennings: An In-Depth Look

2015: Western Character: Expressions of Identity and Place in Portraiture

2014: Journeys West

2013: Decades: An Expanded Context for Western American Art, 1900-1940

2012: Lest We Forget California: Artists in the Golden West

2011: A Distant View: European Perspectives on Western American Art

2010: Shaping the West: American Sculptors of the 19th Century

2009: Taos Traditions: Artists in an Enchanted Land

2008: Heart of the West: New Art/New Thinking

2007: Redrawing Boundaries: Perspectives on Western American Art

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Membership and Museum Friends

Membership at the Denver Art Museum not only provides you discounts and access, but also the satisfaction of knowing your support helps us preserve and share art with present and future generations. Become a member today and see just how much the museum has to offer!

Are you interested in a specific type of art, while also enjoying opportunities to participate across the museum? If so, consider deepening your support by adding Museum Friends to your membership. Museum Friends enjoy access to free lectures, a deeper dive into a department of interest, and invitations to social gatherings for that department of interest.

Lit up hallway of the newly renovated Martin Building

The Martin Building Project

The gallery for this collection is closed during the Martin Building renovation project. Standing seven stories tall, the Martin Building will house collection galleries, a conservation laboratory, interactive classroom space, a family activity center, two restaurants, and the brand new Anna and John J. Sie Welcome Center. It will reopen October 24, 2021.