Dietler Gallery of Western Art, Level 2, Hamilton Building
Betsy Magness Galleries, Level 7, North Building
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.”
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.
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. All Petrie Institute publications are available through the Shop. Select exhibition catalogs and all Western Passages are also available through the University of Oklahoma Press.
- 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, 2013. Edited by Thomas Brent Smith and Thayer Tolles. New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art.
- 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.
The Denver Art Museum has collected and exhibited western American art since the 1950s. In 2001, the museum received the gift of a large, important collection of western paintings and bronzes from William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen, which provided the impetus for establishing the institute of western American Art.
Thanks to a major contribution to the building campaign from Cortlandt Dietler, the western galleries were relocated from the seventh level of the North Building to the second level of the new Frederic C. Hamilton Building in 2006. In 2007, the institute received a new title, the Petrie Institute of Western American Art, following an extraordinary gift from the Thomas A. Petrie family to partially endow the department. In 2010, the fundraising effort to endow the Petrie Institute was completed.
- Thomas Brent Smith, Director and Curator
- Meg Erickson, Curatorial Assistant
- Julianne Maron, Publications and Programs Coordinator
- Molly Medakovich, Ph.D., 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:
- 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)