Autry Exhibition Archives

2016

Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale

February 6–March 20, 2016

The Autry’s Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale has become the country’s most important Western art show. Each year, more than seventy nationally and internationally recognized contemporary Western artists challenge themselves to create and exhibit their very best work. Stylistically and thematically diverse, their works represent the extraordinary range of subject matter that contemporary, historic, and mythic Western experiences continue to inspire.

Empire and Liberty: The Civil War and the West

April 25, 2015–January 3, 2016

Empire and Liberty was the first major museum exhibition to illuminate the causes and legacies of the American Civil War from the vantage point of Westward expansion. The exhibition included an astonishing array of more than 200 artifacts, including Texas slave sale documents, Andrés Pico’s war drum, the battle flag carried by soldiers of the California Hundred, a Buffalo Soldier’s revolver, and Cherokee General Stand Watie’s bowie knife.

2014-2015

Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale

January 31–March 8, 2015

Each year, more than seventy nationally and internationally recognized contemporary Western artists challenge themselves to create and exhibit their very best work. Stylistically and thematically diverse, their works represent the extraordinary range of subject matter that contemporary, historic, and mythic Western experiences continue to inspire.

Kim Stringfellow’s Jackrabbit Homestead

September 13, 2014–August 23, 2015

Through photography and audio interviews, artist Kim Stringfellow explored how the desire to flee the urban sprawl of Los Angeles and stake a claim in the California desert resulted in a collection of derelict cabins from the 1950s and the reclamation of the same land and structures for a burgeoning artistic community today. The exhibition also explored issues of land use and ecology that complicate the settlement of the arid West. In 2012, Stringfellow became the second recipient of the Theo Westenberger Award for Artistic Excellence, presented by the Autry to honor contemporary women whose work in photography, film, and new media transforms how we see the American West.

Route 66: The Road and the Romance

June 8, 2014–January 4, 2015

Route 66: The Road and the Romance took visitors through a historical journey along the iconic symbol of America’s move westward. Visitors were presented with the facts and the fiction surrounding the Mother Road through more than 250 extraordinary artifacts that traced the history of the route and its impact on American popular culture.

Floral Journey: Native North American Beadwork

March 15, 2014–April 26, 2015

Floral Journey: Native North American Beadwork delved beneath the surface of its 250 beaded objects to explore the personal stories and cultural meanings behind each piece. The exhibition was the first of its kind to explore how beaded floral designs became a remarkable art form as well as a means of economic and cultural survival for the Native North American people.

Companion Publication
Floral Journey: Native North American Beadwork
By Lois Sherr Dubin
Autry / University of Washington Press (2014)

Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic

May 10, 2013–January 5, 2014

Though Los Angeles is known for its cultural diversity, this groundbreaking exhibition focused on the history of a specific group, the Jewish community, and how they fit their culture and identity into the Los Angeles mosaic. This exhibition told the story of neighborhoods like Boyle Heights and Fairfax, people like Billy Wilder, Max Factor, and Frank Gehry, and lynchpin industries like the movies and suburban land development.

Companion Publication
Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic
Karen Wilson, Editor
University of California Press (2013)

2012-2013

Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale

February 2–March 17, 2013

Each year, more than seventy nationally and internationally recognized contemporary Western artists challenge themselves to create and exhibit their very best work. Stylistically and thematically diverse, their works represent the extraordinary range of subject matter that contemporary, historic, and mythic Western experiences continue to inspire.

California's Designing Women, 1896–1986

August 10, 2012–January 6, 2013

“The newness of California, and the state’s periodic bursts of population growth, afforded unprecedented opportunities for women to participate in the creation and production of design, one of the principal engines of California’s dynamic economy, now the sixth largest in the world. As California’s extraordinary role in American design is receiving the recognition it has long deserved, California’s Designing Women, 1896–1986 acknowledges the work of more than fifty of the women who, as designers and entrepreneurs, helped make that distinction possible.” —Bill Stern, Guest Curator

Katsina in Hopi Life

June 29, 2012–December 1, 2013

This exhibition featured a remarkable collection of Katsina dolls from the Autry’s Southwest Museum of the American Indian Collection, providing a glimpse into Hopi life and culture. Katsinam (the plural form of Katsina) are spiritual beings who represent all aspects of life and travel to be with the Hopi people six months of the year. Told from the Hopi perspective, this exhibition shared the unique relationship the Hopi people have with the Katsinam, focusing on the values, lessons, and encouraging messages learned from them.

Howard Terpning: Tribute to the Plains People

May 12, 2012–July 1, 2012

One of the most celebrated painters of the American West, Howard Terpning’s works illuminated the daily life and culture of the Plains People. Using historical research, meticulous attention to detail, and sweeping landscape vistas, Terpning created engaging and open-ended stories about life, family, and survival on the Western frontier. This extraordinary retrospective of Terpning's work brought together more than eighty masterworks, some never before displayed to the public.

The Marks We Make: Western Panoramas by Karen Halverson

April 14, 2012–September 9, 2012

Experience a series of panoramic photographs by the Autry’s first Theo Westenberger Award for Artistic Excellence winner, Karen Halverson. Drawing upon historical photographic surveys of Western landscapes, Halverson’s work examined the effects of time and urban expansion on these natural landscapes. Her work both honored traditional photographic approaches to Western lands and probed the impact of those same visual constructions.

Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale

February 4–March 18, 2012

Each year, more than seventy nationally and internationally recognized contemporary Western artists challenge themselves to create and exhibit their very best work. Stylistically and thematically diverse, their works represent the extraordinary range of subject matter that contemporary, historic, and mythic Western experiences continue to inspire.

Pacific Standard Time, Art Along the Hyphen: The Mexican-American Generation

October 14, 2011–January 8, 2012

Organized by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center with guest curators Chon Noriega and Terezita Romo.

Before the rise of the Chicano art movement, there existed a generation of Mexican-American artists who paved the way for future generations of minority group artists. This exhibition explored the dynamic between these early twentieth century artists, the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s, and the cultural history of Los Angeles itself. Art Along the Hyphen was part of a unique four-exhibition project called L.A. Xicano organized by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center in partnership with the Autry, the Fowler Museum at UCLA, and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

The Art of Native American Basketry: A Living Tradition

November 6, 2009–May 6, 2012

Organized by the Southwest Museum of the American Indian.

Drawing from the extensive and stunning collections of the Southwest Museum, this approximately 250-piece exhibition focused on the artistry and cultural significance behind Native American basketry. Through exploring the geographically arranged gallery, visitors were able to see how the materials, techniques, and designs of the baskets varied from region to region, reflecting different physical environments and traditions.

2010-2011

Skydreamers

April 29, 2011–August 21, 2011

When the pioneers of flight conquered the air, it was possible for the first time to look down at the Earth—to perceive its curving horizon, witness its smallness. Skydreamers used more than 150 primarily photographic images to chart the story of the men and women who, from the 1700s through the Space Age, made this incredible leap of faith.

Companion Publication
Sky Dreamers: A Saga of Air and Space
By Stephen White, Simon Winchester, Michael Benson
Stephen White Editions/ Autry National Center (2010)

Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale

February 5, 2011–March 20, 2011

Each year, more than seventy nationally and internationally recognized contemporary Western artists challenge themselves to create and exhibit their very best work. Stylistically and thematically diverse, their works represent the extraordinary range of subject matter that contemporary, historic, and mythic Western experiences continue to inspire.

Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied

September 24, 2010–January 9, 2011

While completing three murals in 1932 Los Angeles, David Alfaro Siqueiros explored new techniques and experimented with perspective, all the while fomenting a new artistic and political aesthetic that took root in the city but eventually resulted in his near deportation. This exhibition, which featured more than 100 works and materials drawn from archives across the continent, explored this fertile period in the life and work of one of the most important artists of the twentieth century.

Home Lands: How Women Made the West

April 16, 2010–August 22, 2010

From ancient pueblos to modern suburbs, women have shaped the Western landscape through choices about how to sustain home, family, and community. Home Lands: How Women Made the West brings together women's history, Western history, and environmental history to show how women have been at the heart of the Western enterprise across cultures and over time. Historical artifacts, art, photographs, and biographies of individual women led visitors through three distinctive Western environments created and inhabited by women.

Companion Publication
Home Lands: How Women Made the West
By Virginia Scharff and Carolyn Brucken
University of California Press (2009)

Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale

February 6, 2010–March 7, 2010

Each year, more than seventy nationally and internationally recognized contemporary Western artists challenge themselves to create and exhibit their very best work. Stylistically and thematically diverse, their works represent the extraordinary range of subject matter that contemporary, historic, and mythic Western experiences continue to inspire.

Dreamers in Dream City

September 25, 2009–January 3, 2010

Organized by Harry Chandler.

Native son and photographer Harry Brant Chandler brought a set of compelling and evocative color portraits, personal insights, and biographies of fifty-four of the most accomplished and colorful men and women from the City of Angels to this exhibition. Chandler is a fifth-generation member of the Chandlers and Brants in Los Angeles, families whose dreams helped shaped the city—from the founding and running of the Los Angeles Times to numerous civic, business, and real estate endeavors. Chandler’s choice to colorize and customize the older photographs was based on his heartfelt notion that yesterday’s dreamers who have long since passed are as vibrant today as when their dreams were first born.

Charting the Canyon: Photographs by Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe

September 25, 2009–January 3, 2010

Organized by the Phoenix Art Museum.

This exhibition explored the much-celebrated Grand Canyon, featuring the vivid colors, breathtaking vistas, and jaw-dropping canyon depths that have lured photographers to Northern Arizona for years. In 2007, Mark Klett and Byron Wolfe headed to the Grand Canyon to identify the exact locations portrayed in early photographs and drawings. From those geographic points, they created new photographs that digitally incorporated parts of the original view to create an altogether new vision of the landscape.

Karen Kitchel: Seasonal Overture

July 17, 2009–January 3, 2010

Traditional Western landscape painting often overlooks the surface of the terrain in favor of grand vistas and the power and control that they imply. Karen Kitchel’s Seasonal Overture challenged this approach by bringing the viewer into close contact with the landscape surface. The series consisted of forty individual oil paintings, representing four different places and seasons. Just as the natural cycles of growth and death are charted through the change of season, so were the different colors, textures, and character of these distinct places.

2008-2009

Granite Frontiers: A Century of Yosemite Climbing

June 12, 2009–October 4, 2009

This exhibition introduced visitors to the people who pioneered modern rock climbing and those who are taking it in incredible new directions.

Sparkle & Twang: Marty Stuart’s American Musical Odyssey

April 16, 2009–August 23, 2009

Organized by Tennessee State Museum.

This exhibition told the story of country music icon Marty Stuart's personal experiences with some of the most famous stars of American music, highlighting several of the greatest performers on the country, bluegrass, rockabilly, and Southern gospel scenes. Visitors were invited to discover what life on the road really meant and learn about the struggles and triumphs these performers experienced in order to succeed.

"I made it my mission to save the historic relics of country music, not just because they were things I loved, but to preserve them as cultural artifacts," says Marty Stuart.

Bold Caballeros y Noble Bandidas

November 1, 2008–May 10, 2009

Organized by the Autry in association with Arizona State University's Hispanic Research Center.

All over the world, stories and folktales are told about certain bandits who stand for social justice. Often, the popular mind converts real historical figures such as Tiburcio Vásquez and the leaders of the Mexican Revolution of 1910 into folk heroes. This exhibition focused on the Latino experience and the interplay of fact and fantasy in the depiction of Latina and Latino "noble bandits."

Maverick Art

October 4, 2008–January 4, 2009

The Autry revealed a startling exhibition of contemporary art drawn primarily from its permanent collection. Maverick Art emphasized work created after 1990 to reveal how contemporary artists see the West now as an artistic resource. While some explored the lingering presence of frontier icons such as cowboys and Indians, others have found new ways to connect Western mythos with the modern experience, revealing a dynamic place where tradition and innovation existed side by side.

Cowboys and Presidents

April 12, 2008–September 7, 2008

This national traveling exhibit explained how the presidency became intertwined with the emerging image of a heroic American cowboy at the turn of the twentieth century and explored the ways that U.S. Presidents have used this powerful iconographic symbol to define themselves and their administrations to the nation and the world. It also showed how the press, foreign governments, and domestic political opponents found cowboy imagery useful in criticizing presidential policy and leadership.

All the Saints of the City of the Angels

February 28, 2008–October 5, 2008

Artist J. Michael Walker used the saints and the streets bearing their names to uncover the soul of Los Angeles, the City of the Angels. Los Angeles is home to 103 streets named for saints, hearkening back to the time when Spanish settlers bestowed upon new territories the names of saints to invoke their protection. By connecting the stories of the saints with the people and places of L.A., Walker illuminated the many facets of Los Angeles' multicultural heritage, from a troubled past including forced Native labor and greedy land developers to a contemporary landscape of economic chasms and newly built cultural bridges.

Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale

February 2, 2008–March 2, 2008

The Autry’s Masters of the American West Fine Art Exhibition and Sale has become the country’s most important Western art show. Each year, more than seventy nationally and internationally recognized contemporary Western artists challenge themselves to create and exhibit their very best work. Stylistically and thematically diverse, their works represent the extraordinary range of subject matter that contemporary, historic, and mythic Western experiences continue to inspire.

Picturing the People

September 7, 2007–January 27, 2008

This exhibit explored the groundbreaking work of Indigenous photographers from the mid-19th century through today. Alongside the photographs from the Autry’s Braun Research Library was the touring exhibition Our People, Our Land, Our Images: International Indigenous Photographers. Together, these two bodies of work explored the relationship between historic and contemporary images of Native people and colonial perceptions.

Gene Autry and the Twentieth-Century West: The Centennial Exhibition, 1907-2007

June 22, 2007–January 13, 2008

For the Centennial anniversary of Gene Autry’s birth, the Autry created an exhibition to honor the life of the entertainer, business man, service man in the US Army Air Corps, media maverick, sports team owner, and philanthropist who founded the museum. With a career that spanned the decades of the twentieth century, Gene Autry was more than an icon in America’s cultural landscape – he helped shape it.

2006-2007

Encounters:  The Fur Trade

June 12, 2005–October 8, 2006

Fur trading provided one important impetus for exploring and settling the American West, the area west of the Mississippi River. Although the fur trade took natural resources out of the American West for the sole monetary benefit of companies based in Europe, its most lasting impact was the transformation of the people of the West. At trading posts and in North American Indian villages, people from different cultures met and became more familiar with each other's cultures.

Once Upon a Time in Italy…The Westerns of Sergio Leone

July 30, 2005–January 22, 2006

This exhibition featured original costumes, set designs, movie posters, and never-seen-before mini-documentaries revealing Leone’s love affair with Hollywood movies and his legacy to cinema around the world. Some of the pieces of cinema history on display included firearms used on location; costumes worn by Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, and James Coburn; set and costume designs by production designer Carlo Simi; and rare Italian and international posters, among others. But, in addition to the experience of the “real thing,” the exhibition gave visitors substantive information about Sergio Leone’s life and career development as a major director of cinema. 

Companion Publication
Once Upon a Time in Italy: The Westerns of Sergio Leone
By Sir Christopher Frayling
Harry N. Abrams (2005)

Totems to Turquoise: Native American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest

March 31, 2006–August 20, 2006

Organized by American Museum of Natural History, New York. 

Throughout time, art and ceremony have connected us to the forces of nature and the animal powers that sustain us. No mere ornament, the jewelry arts of Native America are conduits to a beauty beyond ourselves and within ourselves. With more than 500 objects, including dazzling contemporary and historic Native American jewelry and artifacts, Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest celebrates thousands of years of culture and experience through this ancient and ever-changing mode of creative expression.

Companion Publication
Totems to Turquoise
By Kari Chalker
Harry N. Abrams (2004)

Yosemite: Art of an American Icon, Part I and II

Part I: September 22, 2006–January 21, 2007
Part II: November 10, 2006–April 22, 2007. 

Visitors were invited to explore Yosemite through the eyes of its artists, experience its changing image, and learn about its impact as a cultural phenomenon. Granted to the state of California in 1864, Yosemite is often credited as the birthplace of the “national park” idea. From landscape greats and contemporary photographers to Native weavers, Yosemite’s transition from remote haven to nation destination was the focus of this exhibition, which consisted of more than 140 artworks. Part I of this exhibition explored artworks from 1855 to 1969, while Part II examined works from 1970 to the present.

Companion Publication
Yosemite: Art of an American Icon
Amy Scott, Editor

University of California Press (2006)
California Style: Art and Fashion from the California Historical Society

March 30, 2007-May 27, 2007

Traveling back over 100 years, visitors experienced California's remarkable Victorian-era opulence in this exhibition. Classic California and Western American paintings were exhibited alongside sumptuous ball gowns and magnificent 19th century wedding dresses, offering an invaluable glimpse of life, land, work, and fashion during this unique period.

Pistols: Dazzling Firearms from the Autry National Center

May 18, 2007-August 12, 2007 

In Pistols: Dazzling Firearms, more than 50 exceptional American firearms illustrated how art, historical events, and popular culture have influenced the design and symbolism of decorative weaponry. Each piece, serves to illuminate and celebrate the 19th and 20th centuries and the mythic West. Learn more about the stories behind Annie Oakley's Smith & Wesson, the wondrous beauty of the Autry-Tiffany Dragoon that was given to Gene on his 81st birthday, and many other special and legendary firearms.

2004-2005

California Pottery: From Missions to Modernism

July 4, 2003–January 25, 2004

Organized by Bill Stern, Executive Director, Museum of California Design

“At the beginning of the 1930s, when the Depression devastated the American economy and ended the housing boom of the 1920s, some of the biggest California potteries, which had been making architectural and agricultural products—including roof tiles, glazed tiles, and animal feeders—began producing inexpensive pottery dinnerware. In their rush to design new shapes that would distinguish their products from their competitors’, each company adapted forms that had been made with other materials— stone, wood, metal—and forms that came from other cultures including Chinese, Japanese, and Mexican. The sometimes-witty results reveal the freethinking that would become a hallmark of California design.” –Bill Stern

Companion publication
California Pottery: From Missions to Modernism
By Bill Stern, Peter Brenner (Photographer)
Chronicle Books (2001)

Glorious Treasures: 100 Years of Collecting by the Southwest Museum

October 11, 2003–July 4, 2004

Organized by the Southwest Museum of the American Indian. 

Glorious Treasures: 100 Years of Collecting by the Southwest Museum featured objects collected since the Southwest Society made its initial acquisitions in 1904. A variety of fine California baskets, Pueblo pots, and Navajo textiles were shown. A rare Nez Perce quill-wrapped horsehair shirt was displayed, as was a headdress that once belonged to White Swan (Crow), who was a scout for the U.S. Army at the Battle of the Little Big Horn. Seldom-seen ceramics and clothing from the museum's Central and South American holdings were also included.

George Catlin and His Indian Gallery

May 9, 2004–August 4, 2004

Organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum Renwick Gallery.

George Catlin (1796—1872) journeyed west five times in the 1830s to paint the Plains Indians and their way of life. Convinced that westward expansion spelled certain disaster for native peoples, he viewed his Indian Gallery as a way "to rescue from oblivion their primitive looks and customs." Catlin was the first artist to record the Plains Indians in their own territories. But the more than 500 paintings in the Indian Gallery also revealed the fateful encounter of two different cultures in a frontier region undergoing dramatic transformation.

Encounters:  El Norte–The Spanish and Mexican North

August 1, 2004–May 8, 2005

In Encounters: El Norte—The Spanish and Mexican North, the Autry brought together the collections of the Southwest Museum and the Autry, each contributing to the story of the Spanish and Mexican north. Native American artifacts from the Southwest enhanced this story of encounters, and the Southwest’s complementary collections of Hispanic material were also integrated into the gallery.

Drawn to Yellowstone: Artists in America’s First National Park

September 4, 2004–January 23, 2005

Located mainly in Wyoming but also spanning parts of Montana and Idaho, Yellowstone National Park is among the world’s best-known geological wonders. Seemingly a place apart from civilization, Yellowstone’s exotic appeal also has lured generations of artists. Through their work, Drawn to Yellowstone: Artists in America’s First National Park invited visitors to explore the park’s visual history, changing identity, and impact as a cultural phenomenon.

Companion publication
Drawn To Yellowstone: Artists in America’s First National Park
By Peter H. Hassrick
University of Washington Press (2002)

Luis Ortega’s Rawhide Artistry

April 3, 2005–July 4, 2005

Organized by the National Cowboy and Western History Museum, Oklahoma City. 

In 1932, Luis Ortega broke his arm in a horse corral. While in Santa Barbara seeing the doctor, he showed Western artist Ed Borein his braiding. The artist admired the quality of Ortega’s work and encouraged him to braid rawhide on a more artistic level. This encouragement from a respected member of Santa Barbara’s art community convinced Ortega to pursue a new goal in his braiding career—rawhide artist. During this period he started braiding with finer rawhide strands and may have been the first California braider to interweave colored strands into his hackamores, reins and quirts.

2002-2003

How the West Was Worn

October 20, 2001–January 21, 2002

From buckskin and fringe to denim and rhinestones, a wide range of materials and styles has come to represent clothing of the American West. In viewing How the West Was Worn, visitors saw eighty-three examples of Western clothing and costume staged in four chronological galleries, from the 1820s to the present. How the West Was Worn traced the development of Western style from its nineteenth-century frontier roots to the haute couture of runways in New York and Paris.

Companion publication
How the West Was Worn
By Holly George Warren and James H. Nottage
Harry N. Abrams (2001)

Mountain–Family–Spirit: The Arts and Culture of the Ute Indians

October 30, 2001–February 27, 2002

Organized by the Taylor Museum at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center. 

Mountain–Family–Spirit provided an overview of Ute history, culture, and art from the 17th to the 20th century. This comprehensive exhibition on the art and culture of the Ute Indians of Colorado was the result of six years of collaboration.  A committee composed of members of the Southern Ute tribe, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, and the Ute Mountain Ute tribe surveyed 2,000 documented artifacts throughout the country and chose nearly 200 historic and contemporary pieces to represent the Ute art form.

Painted Light:  California Impressionist Paintings from the Gardena High School/Los Angeles Unified School District Collection

March 24, 2002–May 26, 2002

Organized by the University Art Gallery, California State University Dominguez Hills, in conjunction with Gardena High School/Los Angeles Unified School District, and made possible by a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation, Los Angeles, California.

The story of the Gardena High School art collection is an enduring example of the power of art to rally a community and to shape people’s lives. Each year between 1919 and 1956, Gardena High School seniors collaborated to select and purchase contemporary art that they gifted to the school upon graduation. Thanks to their efforts, Gardena High School now possesses a museum-worthy collection of California Impressionist paintings, including works by some of the state’s most celebrated artists of the early twentieth century. CSU Dominguez Hills was responsible for restoring and organizing the collection for this exhibition after receiving a grant from the W. M. Keck Foundation.

Companion Publication
Painted Light:  California Impressionist Paintings from the Gardena High School/Los Angeles Unified School District Collection
By Jean Stern
California State University Dominguez Hills (1998)

Art of the Charrería: A Mexican Tradition

May 5, 2002–October 20, 2002

Organized by the Autry in cooperation with guest curators Montserrat Mata, Rocío Martínez, and Andrea Cabello; the Franz Mayer Museum in Mexico City; the Consulate General of Mexico; and the Federacion Mexicana de Charrería, A.C., with accompanying bilingual publication. 

Charrería is a culture, tradition, sport, and art practiced in Mexico and the United States.  A central component of charrería is the charreada. The charreada is a festive event that incorporates equestrian competitions and demonstrations, specific costumes and horse trappings, music, and food. Following Federación Mexicana de Charrería regulations, male participants called charros compete in roping and riding events and escaramuza teams of women execute daring feats and precision maneuvers while riding sidesaddle. This rich, ongoing tradition was explored through its distinctive works of art and costume in Art of the Charrería: A Mexican Tradition.

Jewish Life in the American West: Generation to Generation

June 21, 2002–January 20, 2003

This exhibition explored the history and adventure of Jews in the American West, from early exploration along the Santa Fe Trail in the 1820s through decades of immigration and settlement in Western towns and cities. This exhibition emphasized the contributions of Jews who built their homes throughout the West. From homesteaders in utopian agricultural communities to the entrepreneurs who created one of America’s greatest exports, the film industry, these pioneers became leaders in business, culture, and community identity while contributing to the diversity of Western communities.

Companion Publication
Jewish Life in the American West: Perspectives on Migration, Settlement, and Community
Ava F. Kahn, Editor
Heyday (2004)

Ocean View: The Depiction of Southern California Coastal Lifestyle

November 23, 2002–July 27, 2003

Produced in collaboration with the UCR/California Museum of Photography Riverside, CA.  Support provided by the California Council for the Humanities.

This exhibition presented in visual forms the myths, realities, and artistry of the Southern California coastline. Few other places figure so largely in the public imagination. The mythology that health and happiness can be found at the ocean's edge, a myth that with intention and success drew industry wealth and populations from the East to the West, could be read across one hundred years of images. Ocean View told the story of a golden land, a place of "subtropical twilights and soft westerlies off the Pacific," of Waterman, Dogmen, and a girl named Gidget, of failed dreams and new beginnings, of destruction and ecology.

Carl Rungius: Artist, Sportsman

March 29, 2003–June 15, 2003

Produced by the Glenbow Museum, Calgary, Alberta, Canada. 

Carl Rungius: Artist, Sportsman presented a comprehensive collection of works and artifacts of America's historic painter of big game and first career wildlife artist. This exhibition examined Rungius's contributions to American painting within the context of his life and times for a new understanding of this important but often overlooked artist. Stimulated by its bold landscapes and powerful animals, Rungius influenced popular attitudes toward the American West. As he helped define "wilderness" in cultural terms, Carl Rungius: Artist, Sportsman provides us with the opportunity to explore the changing role of wildlife and the environment in twentieth century America.

Companion Publication
Carl Rungius: Artist & Sportsman
By Carl Rungius
Warwick House Publishing (2002)

2000-2001

Western Amerykański: Polish Poster Art and the Western

October 16, 1999–January 30, 2000

The heroic figures of Western films played a major role in postwar Poland, acting as a symbol of freedom and strength during times of repression. Under the guise of entertainment, these film posters spread a subtle social commentary while escaping the domain of government censorship. This exhibition, which featured the largest collection of its kind outside of Poland, celebrated the significance of this golden age in Polish poster-making.

Companion Publication 
Western Amerykański: Polish Poster Art and the Western
Kevin Mulroy, Editor
University of Washington Press (1999)

Buffalo Bill’s Wild West

March 4, 2000–July 9, 2000

Produced by the Royal Armouries, Leeds, England. 

Daring rescues, heroic battles, a runaway stagecoach, and the thundering hoofbeats of a buffalo herd -- these are all part of the greatest Western story the world has ever seen: Buffalo Bill's Wild West. Drawing on the holdings of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, and those of prominent American and British collectors, the exhibition was a major step forward in the interpretation of the colorful career of Col. William F. Cody -- Buffalo Bill. Exhibits included an original 1867 Deadwood Stagecoach, bought by Buffalo Bill, Annie Oakley's gold-plated single-shot rifle, and an elaborate silver service presented to Cody by the Royal family.

On Gold Mountain: A Chinese American Experience

July 23, 2000–January 1, 2001

Based on the book of the same title by author Lisa See, On Gold Mountain explored four generations of a Chinese American family who originally immigrated to California in 1867 and whose members have lived and worked in Los Angeles from 1897 to the present. The backdrop for these family and community histories was an even bigger picture that illustrated national tragedies and triumphs, ranging from exclusionary laws in the nineteenth century to burgeoning suburban Chinatowns in the twentieth century. On Gold Mountain reveals how all immigrants to America are faced with similar challenges: choosing between the old world and the new, maintaining culture and language, and balancing long-practiced traditions with the demands of assimilation.

Blue Gem, White Metal:  Carvings and Jewelry from the C. G. Wallace Collection

October 14, 2000–January 21, 2001

Produced by the Heard Museum, Phoenix.

Charles Garrett Wallace traded with the Zuni people of western New Mexico for over 50 years, establishing a symbiotic connection with the people that extended beyond business relations. During this time period, the Zuni people’s jewelry-making techniques and styles also proliferated, making Wallace’s collection an invaluable record of the history, culture, and artwork of the Zuni people. This exhibit featured more than 250 of the finest examples of Zuni and Navajo silverwork made between 1918 and 1958, as well as a selection of jewelry and carvings by contemporary artists.

HuupuKwanum Tupaat, Out of the Mist:  Treasures of the Nuu-chah-nulth Chiefs

February 24, 2001–June 10, 2001

Produced by the Royal British Columbia Museum, Victoria, BC.

Out of the Mist was a unique exhibition detailing the culture and history of the Nuu-chah-nulth people through their own voice. This exhibition was the result of a three-year collaboration with the Royal British Columbia Museum in Victoria, B.C. and the Nuu-chah-nulth Tribal Council.

Companion Publication
Out of the Mist : Treasures of the Nuu-chah-nulth Chiefs
By Martha Black
Royal British Columbia Museum (1999)

John James Audubon in the West:  The Last Expedition, Mammals of North America

June 24, 2001–September 30, 2001

Produced by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, Cody, WY.

Tracing John James Audubon’s final journey to the West, this exhibition displayed the stunning illustrations of the scientist and artist along with original documents, letters, and major works of art from Audubon’s contemporaries.

1998-1999

Patterns of Progress: Quilts in the Machine Age

October 18, 1997–January 25, 1998

This exhibition utilized the development of the sewing machine to trace the effects of industrialization, both positive and negative, on women in the West. The exhibition’s display of quilts through the ages also examined the elevation of quilting from an essential home practice to a form of artistry.

Companion Publication
Patterns of Progress: Quilts in the Machine Age
By Barbara Brackman
Autry (1998)

Will James: Cowboy Artist and Author

October 3, 1997–January 4, 1998

This exhibition traced the life of artist and author Will James, displaying his artworks alongside his famous literary works, such as the 1927 Newberry Award winner Smoky the Cowhorse.

Inventing the Southwest: The Fred Harvey Company and Native American Art

Classics and Dazzlers: Weavings from the Fred Harvey Collection

February 14–April 19, 1998. Both exhibitions produced by the Heard Museum, Phoenix.

Culture y Cultura: How the U.S.-Mexican War Shaped the West

May 2, 1998–September 7, 1998

This exhibition commemorated the sesquicentennial of the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, the agreement that ended the Mexican-American war and transformed the idea of American identity in the West in a single stroke. Culture y Cultura was the first of four Autry exhibitions that examined the legacy of the war and its impact on Mexican American communities today.

Companion Publication
Culture y Cultura: Consequences of the U.S.-Mexican War, 1846-1848
By Iris Wilson Engstrand
Texas A&M University Press (1998)

Gold Fever!  The Lure & Legacy of the California Gold Rush

September 19, 1998–January 24, 1999

Produced by the Oakland Museum of California. 

Over 1,000 artifacts and artworks portray the history and impact of the California Gold Rush from 1848 to the present day. This exhibit gave visitors an idea of life during the Gold Rush in addition to displaying the magnificent objects and jewelry created from this precious and highly coveted metal.

Powerful Images: Portrayals of Native America

February 20, 1999–May 16, 1999

Produced by Museums West.

This multimedia exhibition challenged visitors to understand Native American culture by understanding how they represent their own culture. In an effort to dispel stereotypes perpetuated by mass media, this exhibition displayed artifacts and artwork created by the Native Americans, ranging from sculptures and paintings to children’s toys.

Companion Publication
Powerful Images: Portrayals of Native Americans
By Sarah E. Boehme and Gerald T. Conaty
University of Washington Press (1998)

The California Deserts: Today and Yesterday

May 29, 1999–September 26, 1999

Produced by the Palm Springs Museum.  Sponsored by the Automobile Club of Southern California. 

This exhibition transported visitors through 80 years of time via a series of viewpoints in various California deserts. The original photographs drew from an advertising campaign from the Automobile Club of Southern California intended to lure tourists to the desert locales while their modern-day recreations revealed that much of the landscape was unchanged. This exhibition questioned the paradox that led to the preservation of these landscapes and sparked greater questions about the impact of urbanization overall.

This Land Is Your Land: The Life and Legacy of Woody Guthrie

June 26, 1999–September 26, 1999

Produced by the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibits Service, in association with the Guthrie Archive. 

This exhibition spanned musician Woody Guthrie's life from his birth in 1912, in Okemah, Oklahoma, to his move to New York City in 1940; it followed his extensive travels throughout the land up until his death in 1967, culminating reflectively on the lasting influence that his life and music has had upon American musical culture.  For example, in the last section of the exhibition, the topic of a specially produced video presented Woody's continuing influence on songwriters today, featuring interviews with Billy Bragg, Wilco, Bruce Springsteen, Bono, Ani DiFranco and Corey Harris.

1996-1997

Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890 to 1945

October 13, 1995–January 28, 1996

Featured works from the early female artists of California including Mabel Alvarez, Kathryn Leighton, Elsie Palmer Payne and Donna Norine Schuster.

Companion Publication
Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, 1890-1945
By Patricia Trenton
University of California Press/ Autry (1995)

Runs, Hits, and an Era:  The Pacific Coast League, 1903-1958

February 17, 1996–May 12, 1996

Produced by the Oakland Museum, extensively supplemented by the Autry.

This interactive exhibit gave visitors the opportunity to try on replicas of Pacific Coast League uniforms, hear the radio broadcasts from a Pacific Coast League game, and gain a greater understanding of baseball and its cultural impact on America.

Companion Publication
Runs, Hits, and an Era: The Pacific Coast League, 1903-58
By Paul J. Zingg and Mark D. Medeiros
University of Illinois Press (1994)

Negro Leagues Baseball

February 6, 1996–May 12, 1996

Bill Gollings: Ranahan Artist

February 10, 1996–March 31, 1996 

Produced by a private collection. 

Covering the West:  The Best of Southwest Art Magazine

April 6, 1996–May 26, 1996

Working closely in collaboration with the Southwest Art Magazine, this exhibit celebrated the wide range of artists in the Western genre. Artists featured throughout the journal’s 26-year history were selected for display in this traveling exhibition.

In Search of Frederic Remington

September 14, 1996–December 1, 1996

Produced by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center. 

This traveling exhibition was dedicated to the life and artistic legacy of famed painter and sculptor Frederic Remington, a figure who was also one of the most imitated artists in American history. The central theme of the exhibit was authenticity – how to determine the authenticity of an object, categorizing inauthentic objects, and how these two types of objects intersect and influence within the art world.

Saddlemaker to the Stars: The Leather and Silver Art of Edward H. Bohlin

December 14, 1996–March 2, 1997

Companion Publication
Saddlemaker to the Stars: The Leather and Silver Art of Edward H. Bohlin
By James H. Nottage
University of Washington Press (1997)

Photographing Montana, 1894-1928: The World of Evelyn Cameron

December 14, 1996–March 2, 1997

This exhibition displayed the work of Evelyn Cameron, an Englishwoman who moved to Montana in 1894 and developed a passion for capturing its sweeping landscapes through photography.

The Fine Art of California Indian Basketry

March 22, 1997–June 1997

Glass Tapestry: Plateau Beaded Bags from the Elaine Horwitch Collection

March 22, 1997–June 1997. 

Produced by the Heard Museum, Phoenix.

Companion Publication
Glass Tapestry: Plateau Beaded Bags from the Elaine Horwitch Collection
By Barbara Loeb and Gloria M. Lomahaftwea
Heard Museum (1993)

Indian Humor

March 29, 1997–May 11, 1997

Produced by American Indian Contemporary Arts in San Francisco. 

An exhibit featuring 38 contemporary Native American artists and 87 objects including paintings, photography, sculpture, textiles and mixed-media work.

Western Wonderlands: Touring America’s National Parks

June 14, 1997–September 21, 1997

This exhibition focused on the history of five national parks in the United States: Yellowstone, Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Glacier. Through a combination of artifacts from these national parks and a 45-minute film presentation, the exhibition told the story of these parks as well as the struggles they faced in the present day.

1994-1995

Beyond the Prison Gate:  The Fort Marion Experience and Its Artistic Legacy

October 16, 1993–January 9, 1994

Produced by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame.  Sponsored in part by ARCO Foundation.

The artwork from this exhibition came from a group of American Indians imprisoned in Fort Marion after the Red River War, considered to be the last Indian war on the Southern Plains. Divided into five sections, the exhibition introduced visitors to the artwork of the Plains people, the series of events that occurred during the Red River War, a 3-D miniature reconstruction of Fort Marion, artist biographies, and finally the impact and legacy of these artists on contemporary Southern Plains art.

The Hubbard Collection of Western Art

January 22, 1994–March 20, 1994

Collection of paintings and murals depicting the pioneers and frontiersmen of the “Old West.”

The Art of W. H. D. Koerner

January 22, 1994–March 6, 1994

Displayed concurrently with the Hubbard Collection, this exhibit showed the work of vignette artist W. H. D. Koerner, who had a lifelong passion for illustrating stories of the West.

Strength and Diversity:  Japanese-American Women 1885-1990

March 19, 1994–May 30, 1994

Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service with supplementation by the Autry.  Sponsored by Wells Fargo.

This exhibition utilized interview footage from 50 Japanese American women to establish the framework of the story – a three-generational narrative that introduced visitors to the immigrant women who sailed overseas to marry for citizenship; then to their daughters, subjected to the WWII internment camps despite their rights as Americans; and finally to the third generation of Japanese American women and their achievements.

Desert Dreams:  The Art of Maynard Dixon

April 2, 1994–June 5, 1994

Museum of New Mexico. 

This exhibition displayed 70 works from Maynard Dixon, known for his paintings of the Southwestern landscape, as well as letters, poems, and personal items that told the story of the artist’s life.

Companion Publication
Desert Dreams:  The Art of Maynard Dixon
By Donald J. Hagerty
Gibbs Smith (1993)

The Mask of Zorro:  Mexican Americans in Popular Media

June 18, 1994–September 5, 1994

As the Autry’s first bilingual exhibit, The Mask of Zorro: Mexican Americans in Popular Media examined the stereotypical and often two-dimensional portrayal of Chicanos throughout American media history. The fitting image of the “Mask of Zorro” stood as a symbol of the blurred lines between fact and fiction, between the media’s story and the reality of life as a Mexican American.

Companion Publication
The Mask of Zorro: Mexican Americans in Popular Media
By Deena J., Luis Reyes, Raul H. Vila (Essays), and Gonzalez Valdez
Autry (1994)

Western Masters:  Treasures from the Gilcrease Museum

September 17, 1994–November 27, 1994.

Drawing from the Gilcrease Museum collection, this exhibit showcased works from some of the masters of Western art, including Frederic Remington and Charles Russell.

Crafting Devotions:  Tradition in Contemporary New Mexico Santos

December 10, 1994–February 12, 1995 

This exhibition examined the social and cultural forces that produce the modern-day santos, or religious art, offering a glimpse into the lives of the santeros who make these objects as well as exploring the Spanish Market in Santa Fe, N.M. that pulls all the pieces together into one booming cultural business.

Companion Publication
Crafting Devotions:  Tradition in Contemporary New Mexico Santos
By Laurie Beth Kalb
University of New Mexico Press (1995)

Thundering Hooves: Five Centuries of Horse Power in the American West

February 25, 1995–May 7, 1995

Produced by the Witte Museum of San Antonio

Through the display of over 400 artifacts, this exhibition documented the horse’s incredible impact on American history. Starting from its reintroduction to the Americas by Christopher Columbus, the horse has shaped history and society in remarkable ways.

Patchwork Souvenirs:  Quilts from the 1933 Chicago World's Fair

July 25, 1995–September 10, 1995

Smith-Kramer, Chicago Historical Society 

When Sears, Roebuck and Co. announced a $1000 prize quilting contest in the midst of the Depression, the resulting 27,000 quilt submissions set a record as the largest quilting contest in American history. In this exhibition, the Autry displayed 20 of these historic quilts alongside the personal stories of the women who worked with unfaltering determination to survive difficult times.

Walt Disney's Wild West

May 20, 1995–September 17, 1995

This exhibition assembled a collection of major Disney artifacts that told the story of the theme park that changed the West, from its influences in popular culture to its role as cultural icon of America and the West.

Imaging the West: Selections from the Research Center’s Collections

May 18, 1995–July 16, 1995

“The exhibition looked at the image-​makers of the American West, and the many ways they manipulated and exploited the wealth of imagery that arose from the region. The visitor, like the contemporary consumer, saw a wide variety of image-​heavy items, including rare illustrated books, photographs, maps, and visual paper ephemera in popular media such as promotional, advertising, and tourist-​related materials.” – Marva Felchlin

1992-1993

Artistry in Arms: The Guns of Smith & Wesson, 1850-1941

October 18, 1991–January 5, 1992

Produced by the Connecticut Valley Historical Museum. 

George Montgomery:  Actor, Artist, Collector

November 20, 1991–January 19, 1992 

Dedicated to the life and work of George Montgomery, this exhibition was divided into sections representing various periods in Montgomery’s life and the work he created and collected during those times. The museum displayed 60 paintings, 30 sculptures, and 30 furniture pieces made or owned by Montgomery.

W. Victor Higgins: An American Painter

January 29, 1992–March 14, 1992

Produced by the Phoenix Art Museum and the Snite Museum of Art, Notre Dame University. 

Patterns of Prestige: The Development and Influence of the Saltillo Sarape in Spanish America

March 24, 1992–May 31, 1992

Produced by the Museum of American Folk Art. Supplemented by the Autry.

Russian America:  The Forgotten Frontier

June 13, 1992–September 27, 1992

Produced by the Washington State Historical Society, Tacoma, and the Anchorage Museum of History and Art.

Though the influence of early Russian settlers is all but gone from California, their impact remains strong in Alaska and parts of Canada. This exhibition traced the history of Russians in the Western frontier and the religious and cultural legacies they left behind.

Alfred Jacob Miller:  Watercolors of the American West

October 9, 1992–January 10, 1993

American Federation of Arts, Gilcrease Museum, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 

This exhibit displayed 60 watercolors from Alfred Jacob Miller, an artist known for his romantic and free-flowing depictions of the West.

George Carlson:  Dignity in Art

January 23, 1993–March 28, 1993

This was the first Autry exhibition to focus solely on one contemporary artist, with a collection of bronze sculptures, pastels, paintings, drawings and serigraphs by George Carlson from the 1960s onwards.

Companion Publication
George Carlson: Dignity in Art
By George Carlson and James H. Nottage
Autry (1993)

Old Ties and New Attachments: Italian-American Folklife in the West

April 11, 1993–May 31, 1993

Produced by the American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress with additions by the Autry.

This interactive exhibition traced the history of Italian Americans in the West, divided into three sections labeled "Family," "Work," and "Ties and Attachments." Interviews and video clips from an extensive study conducted by the Library of Congress' American Folklife Center were presented alongside photographs and family heirlooms.

The Wild West: Photographs by David Levinthal

June 12, 1993–September 9, 1993

Produced by Levinthal and the Autry.

Inspired by his 1950s childhood of cowboys and Westerns, David Levinthal designed and photographed a series of elaborate scenes featuring toy cowboys, Native Americans, and pioneer women. The 29 photographs are out-of-focus but simultaneously dynamic, creating the sense of action and excitement that is characteristic of Western films.

Companion Publication
The Wild West: Photographs by David Levinthal
By David Levinthal
Smithsonian Institute Press (1993)

Cowboy Serenade:  Roots of Western Music

June 12, 1993–October 3, 1993

Inspired by none other than museum founder and “Singing Cowboy” Gene Autry himself, this exhibition presented various artifacts, photographs and old recordings from major Western singers as well as weekly live music events to bring the theme to life.

1990-1991

Native Americans:  Five Centuries of Changing Images

November 29, 1989–March 1, 1990

The iconic and mythical American West would not be complete without the Native Americans – yet the majority of images and artworks were created by non-native artists. This exhibition contrasted works of well-known Western artists with Native American artifacts, questioning the lens through which these artists saw Native American life and culture as well as the impact of their artwork on public perception and understanding.

Interior West: The Craft & Style of Thomas Molesworth

March 16, 1990–May 22, 1990

Produced by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center.

This exhibition displayed the works of furniture-maker Thomas Molesworth, known for pioneering a uniquely Western look in the realm of furniture. Molesworth drew inspiration for his pieces from the South Fork area of the Shoshone River, creating various nature and landscape-inspired designs. Though his work achieved a level of fame, his name was neither widely recognized nor celebrated prior to this traveling exhibition.

Companion Publication
Interior West: The Craft & Style of Thomas Molesworth
By Wally Reber and Paul Fees
Buffalo Bill Historical Center/ Autry (1989)

Stagecoach!  The Romantic Western Vehicle

June 17, 1990–September 9, 1990

Companion Publication
Stagecoach!  The Romantic Western Vehicle
By James H. Nottage and Jim Wilke
Autry (1990)

Crossroads of Continents:  Cultures of Siberia and Alaska

October 21, 1990–February 24, 1991

Produced by the National Museum of Natural History and the Soviet Academy of Sciences.

In a landmark exhibition that brought together Soviet and North American scholars and scientists, Crossroads of Continents: Cultures of Siberia and Alaska showcased almost 600 pieces of artwork and artifacts used by the people of the arctic region. The exhibition aimed to showcase the rich culture and history of the region – one that is seldom mentioned or taught in the history books. 

Companion Publication
Crossroads of Continents:  Cultures of Siberia and Alaska
By William W. Fitzhugh and Aron Crowell
Smithsonian Institute Press (1988)

America's Star:  U. S. Marshals, 1789-1989

March 16, 1991–May 5, 1991

Smithsonian Institution.

A traveling exhibition containing more than 200 artifacts about the history and individuals of the U.S. Marshal Agency, established in 1789.

Western Heroes:  Hoppy, Gene and the Lone Ranger

May 14, 1991–September 11, 1991 

Gathering together film memorabilia and merchandise from Hopalong Cassidy (William Boyd), Gene Autry, and the Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore), this family-friendly exhibit discussed each famous Western actor’s career and life, from about 1930 to 1960.

From the Mississippi to the Big Water:  The West of John Clymer

September 21, 1991–November 11, 1991

Produced by the National Cowboy Hall of Fame. 

Artist John Clymer and his wife set out on a journey in the footsteps of 19th-century explorers and traders, traveling from the Mississippi to the Pacific Northwest. This trip, along with the research he conducted along the way of each area’s history and people, would later be the inspiration for the historically-detailed series of paintings displayed at the Autry.

1988-1989

The West Explored: The Gerald Peters Collection of Western American Art

November 1988–January 22, 1989

Produced by the Gerald Peters Gallery. This was the Autry’s inaugural exhibit.

Companion Publication
The West Explored: The Gerald Peters Collection of Western American Art
By Julie Schimmel and James H. Nottage (Preface)
Gerald Peters Gallery (1988)

Masterpieces of the American West: Selections from the Anschutz Collection

January 31, 1989–March 26, 1989

Produced by The Anschutz Collection.

Companion Publication
Masterpieces of the American West: Selections from the Anschutz Collection
By Elizabeth Cunningham
University of Nebraska Press (1987)

Beautiful Daring Western Girls: Women of Wild West Shows and Rodeo

April 6, 1989–June 6, 1989

Produced by the Buffalo Bill Historical Center, with extensive supplementation by the Autry.

El Dorado:  Paintings of the Golden State

June 14, 1989–November 19, 1989

Produced by the Autry, utilizing the collections of the California Historical Society. 

This exhibition celebrated the miners who first came to the Golden State in search of the precious metal that would make their fortunes. The collection of paintings also offered a comprehensive look at California’s history, from the people to the landscape itself, during this time of discovery and constant migration.

Companion Publication
El Dorado:  Paintings of the Golden State
By James H. Nottage
Autry (1989)