Dietler Gallery of Western Art, Level 2, Hamilton Building (OPEN)
Betsy Magness Galleries, Level 7, North Building (CLOSED)
The Petrie Institute of Western American Art is the national leader in scholarly research and programming in the field of art of the American West. The Petrie Institute is organized to enrich life in the Rocky Mountain region through the study, collection, preservation, and exhibition of art created about the American West, its people, its history, and its landscape.
Our encyclopedic western American art collection is anchored by three extraordinary masterworks—Frederic Remington's bronze The Cheyenne, Charles M. Russell's In the Enemy's Country and Charles Deas's Long Jakes, “the Rocky Mountain Man.”
Level 7 Galleries Now Closed to Make Artwork Loan Possible
Level 7 of the North Building closed on January 29, 2017. This makes it possible for the DAM to loan the artworks in Backstory: Western American Art in Context at History Colorado Center, and is an early step toward realizing the North Building revitalization project. Backstory features works from the DAM's western American art collection displayed alongside History Colorado’s collection of western artifacts. The exhibition is on view through February 11, 2018, at History Colorado Center. Present your DAM Member ID card at History Colorado Center for free general admission on these dates*: April 11, July 11, October 10, 2017, and January 9, 2018. History Colorado Center also has free general admission for everyone on the following days: April 30, 2017 (Día del Niño) August 1, 2017 (Colorado Day) November 4, 2017 (After 5 pm for Night at the Museums). *Dates subject to change. Check with History Colorado Center to confirm.
Contemporary western American art is currently on view on level 2 of the Hamilton Building.
The Roath Collection
In 2013 the museum announced a major gift of western American art from Henry Roath. The generous donation effectively doubled the importance of the existing western collections and is one of the most important gifts in the history of the Denver Art Museum.
Along with the collection donation, Mr. Roath made a financial gift to help establish an acquisitions fund to transform the future of the department and collection. The Roath Collection comprises over 50 works by masters of the American West including Albert Bierstadt, Thomas Moran, Frederic Remington, and Ernest L. Blumenschein with artworks ranging in date from 1877 to 1972.
Other Notable Highlights
- William Jacob Hays, Herd of Buffalo
- Thomas Moran’s watercolor of the Mount of the Holy Cross
- Albert Bierstadt’s large early canvas Wind River Country
- Charles Bird King’s Eagle of Delight
- E. Martin Hennings’ Rabbit Hunt
The Petrie Institute also holds an impressive collection of contemporary paintings and sculptures.
Things To Do
Members can enjoy exclusive guided tours of the exhibition and learn about the historical figures, artists, actors, and filmmakers who created the enduring mythology of the West. More
Thomas Brent Smith, director of the Petrie Institute of Western American Art at the DAM, will provide behind the scenes details around this first major exhibition to examine the Western genre and its evolution from the mid-1800s to the present through fine art, film, and popular culture. More
Zoom in for a screening of Western stories, main attractions, and epically moving pictures. More
The Western: An Epic in Art and Film is the first major exhibition to examine the Western genre and its evolution from the mid-1800s to the present through fine art, film, and popular culture. Featuring 160 works, the exhibition explores gender roles, race relations, and gun violence—offering a visual journey that is about more than cowboys, bandits, and barroom brawls.
News & Stories
Some of the Denver Art Museum’s Petrie Institute of Western American Art’s most beloved paintings and sculptures are now on display at History Colorado Center as part of a collaborative exhibition entitled Backstory: Western American Art in Context. More
Howdy, y’all! Welcome to the Denver Art Museum’s exhibition The Western: An Epic in Art and Film. We hope the following tips help you prepare for and enjoy your visit. More
Set in the West: Telling Tales in Art and Film explores the dialogue between film and fine art, fact and fiction. More
To commemorate Rocky Mountain National Park's centennial year in 2015, the Denver Art Museum salutes all the artists who have visited the region and have documented its beauty. More
This weekend marks the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act. Some of the historic landscapes protected by this act are celebrated in the Denver Art Museum’s western art galleries. More
When will the object go on view?
Mountain Lake is currently on view in the western American landscape gallery on Level 7 of the North Building.
Why did the DAM acquire the object?
Albert Bierstadt is one of the most noteworthy American landscape artists of the nineteenth century. This painting is representative of his important role in American art and of his artistic process. More
The Petrie Institute publishes nationally distributed exhibition catalogs and annual editions of Western Passages, which explore unexpected subjects and uncommon points of view as well as the tried and true. Select Petrie Institute publications such as exhibition catalogs and Western Passages may be available through The Shops at the Denver Art Museum and the University of Oklahoma Press.
- Once Upon a Time...The Western: A New Frontier in Art and Film. Edited by Thomas Brent Smith and Mary-Dailey Desmarais. Denver Art Museum and The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in association with 5 Continents Editions, 2017.
- A Place in the Sun: Paintings of the Southwest by Walter Ufer and E. Martin Hennings. Edited by Thomas Brent Smith. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press in cooperation with Denver Art Museum, 2015.
- The American West in Bronze, 1850–1925. Edited by Thomas Brent Smith and Thayer Tolles. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2013.
- Decades: An Expanded Context for Western American Art, 1900–1940, Denver Art Museum Western Passages vol. 9, 2013.
- Rocky Mountain Majesty: The Paintings of Charles Partridge Adams. Denver Art Museum, 2013.
- Elevating Western American Art: Developing an Institute in the Cultural Capital of the Rockies, Denver Art Museum Western Passages vol. 8, 2012.
- Shaping the West: American Sculptors of the 19th Century, Denver Art Museum Western Passages vol. 7, 2010.
- Charlie Russell and Friends, Denver Art Museum Western Passages vol. 6, 2010.
- Charles Deas and 1840s America, 2009. Carol Clark. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
- The Masterworks of Charles M. Russell: A Retrospective of Paintings and Sculpture, 2009. Joan Carpenter Troccoli. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
- In Contemporary Rhythm: The Art of Ernest L. Blumenschein, 2008. Peter H. Hassrick and Elizabeth J. Cunningham. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
- Colorado: The Artist’s Muse, Denver Art Museum Western Passages vol. 5, 2008.
- Heart of the West: New Painting and Sculpture of the American West, Denver Art Museum Western Passages vol. 4, 2007.
- Redrawing Boundaries: Perspectives on Western American Art, Denver Art Museum Western Passages vol. 3, 2007.
- Sweet on the West: How Candy Built a Colorado Treasure, Denver Art Museum Western Passages vol. 2, 2003.
- West Point/Points West, Denver Art Museum Western Passages vol. 1, 2002.
- Painters and the American West: The Anschutz Collection. Joan Carpenter Troccoli. Denver Art Museum in association with Yale University Press, 2000.
- Thomas Brent Smith, Director and Curator
- Jennifer Henneman, Assistant Curator
- Meg Erickson, Curatorial Assistant
- Julianne Maron, Publications and Programs Coordinator
- Lauren Thompson, Interpretive Specialist
- Joan Carpenter Troccoli, Director 2001-2005, Senior Scholar 2005-2012
- Peter H. Hassrick, Director Emeritus Director 2005-2009
- Ann Scarlett Daley, Associate Curator 2001–2008
The Petrie Institute offers annual scholarly symposia that directly relate to current topics in western American art, departmental exhibitions, and publications.
Past symposia include:
- Set in the West: Telling Tales in Art and Film (January 4, 2017)
- Walter Ufer and E. Martin Hennings—An In-Depth Look (January 6, 2016)
- Journeys West, 2015: Western Character: Expressions of Identity and Place in Portraiture (2015)
- Decades: An Expanded Context for Western American Art, 1900-1940 (2013)
- Lest We Forget California: Artists in the Golden West (2012)
- A Distant View: European Perspectives on Western American Art (2011)
- Shaping the West: American Sculptors of the 19th Century (2010)
- Taos Traditions: Artists in an Enchanted Land (2009)
- Heart of the West: New Art/New Thinking (2008)
- Redrawing Boundaries: Perspectives on Western American Art (2007)