GREAT FALLS – Western Art Week is here and the C.M. Russell Museum is excited to reopen two exhibitions to the public.
For the past two years, the museum has worked to conserve the Russell Home.
C.M. Russell Museum Curator Emily Wilson said it has been an ongoing process.
“Redoing the floors and the roof. We matched the historical wallpaper up and that was a whole wonderful experience,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the new wallpaper is the biggest transformation. They also added interactive elements.
“I really wanted to highlight the story of Nancy Russell as Charlie’s wife and business partner. Nancy Russell was key in sustaining the lifestyle of the Russells,” Wilson said.
Wilson added Nancy gave Charlie many opportunities to market his artwork and to become the great artist Montana knows.
They also wanted to highlight the relationships the Russells had with others.
“Upstairs is a more personal level. We talk about the different boarders and people that stayed with the Russells over the years. We highlight the more intimate aspects,” Wilson said.
The studio exhibition also exemplifies Charlie’s relationships.
“Highlight his friendships with different native people. It will be a rotating basis to highlight different Native American tribes and friendships that he had.”
The museum is currently showcasing Blackfeet sculptor John Clark in Charlie’s studio.
“One of the major things that we have done is we have taken away the plexiglass barrier. We really wanted people to be able to explore the studio,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the artist process is a major aspect of the studio and they hired an artist out of Minneapolis to make some replica models of Russell’s artwork. Some assistants also helped make some of the pieces on display in the studio.
“We took from the archives, we photocopied and laminated all these letters and little notes that were in Russell’s studio. We want to make it sort of a find and seek,” Wilson said.
Wilson said the purpose is for people to be more intimate with the art and the process.
They will also rotate the different types of media Charlie used throughout his work. Right now, his sculptures are featured.
“Each year that you come back it will be a little bit different,” Wilson said.
The Russell Home and Studio Exhibition will open to the public Tuesday at 10 a.m. The C.M. Russell Museum is located at 400 13th Street North.
Reporting by Margaret DeMarco for MTN News