C.M. Russell Museum

Charles Marion Russell, b 1864- d 1926
400 13th Street North, Great Falls, MT 59401 - view on Google Maps
(406) 727-8787
“Nature has been my teacher; I’ll leave it to you whether she has been a good one.”
—Charles M. Russell
With its collection of paintings, sculpture, and illustrated letters by Charles Marion Russell, The C.M. Russell Museum presents the art, history, and culture of the American West. Russell’s 1900 home and his 1903 studio are open to the public.

ABOUT

Charles M. Russell greatly admired the Northern Plains Indians, closely observing their ways during the summer of 1888, when he lived near the camps of the Blackfeet, Piegan, and Blood Indians in Alberta, Canada. This experience affected him for the rest of his life. Russell’s artwork portrays the daily life of the range cowboy and the Plains Indian, the monumental landscapes of the Montana wilderness, all reflected through the artist’s personal experience during the closing days of the western frontier.

The C.M. Russell Museum holds one of the nation’s largest collections of paintings, sculptures, and drawings by Russell, dating from his boyhood through the end of his life. Five permanent galleries display the full range of the artist’s remarkable evolution from rudimentary beginnings to full mastery of multiple media. The museum also displays an exceptional collection of Russell’s illustrated letters which tell the story of Russell’s travels, observations, and friendships.

Russell’s home is a blue, two-story frame house built in 1900 for $800. It is furnished with period pieces as well as items from the Russell family. When it was built, it was located in the most fashionable district in Great Falls. Russell’s log studio was built adjacent to his home in 1903. Made of western red cedar telephone poles, the studio is filled with authentic cowboy gear and Native American artifacts that Russell collected and used when he painted and sculpted.

In addition to its extensive Russell collections, the museum also features a groundbreaking permanent exhibition on the crucial role of the bison in the cultural life of the Northern Plains between 1800 and the present. The Bison: American Icon, Heart of Plains Indian Culture presents Northern Plains Indian clothing, regalia, tools, and weapons, as well as contemporary interpretations of the bison as a pervasive symbol in American culture.

The C.M. Russell Museum regularly hosts nationally-acclaimed visiting temporary exhibitions.

Did you know...?

Charlie Russell had a clever sense of humor, apparent in many of his illustrated letters. His whimsical side is also revealed in small sculptures fashioned out of clay, wax, plaster, and bark depicting playful figures of gnomes, elves, and caricatures of people he knew.

SPECIAL RESOURCES

The Frederic G. Renner Library, located in the museum, is a non-circulating research library dedicated to the appreciation and study of the art and artists of the American West, Montana and Western history, and Charles M. Russell. The library’s collection reflects the strengths of the C.M. Russell Museum and supports the educational and research needs of its staff and academic researchers.

WHAT TO DO HERE

  • Guided tours of the galleries, home, and studio
  • Public programs for all ages
  • Russell’s West Discovery Gallery: interactive space for families and children
  • The Browning Firearms Collection: rifles, shotguns and handguns made by the Browning, Winchester and Colt companies
  • Picnic in the sculpture garden
  • Shopping in the Museum Store

YOU CAN ALSO SEE THE ART HERE:

  • Amon Carter Museum of American Art, Fort Worth, TX
  • Buffalo Bill Center of the West, Cody, WY
  • Denver Art Museum, Denver, CO
  • Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, Indianapolis, IN
  • Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK
  • Montana Historical Society, Helena, MT
  • National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, Oklahoma City, OK
  • National Museum of Wildlife Art, Jackson, WY
  • Rockwell Museum, Corning, NY