Monday, October 12, 2009

Cowboys and Indians and Andy Warhol

I had known about the Booth Western Art Museum in Cartersville, about thirty miles north of Atlanta, for several years, but I finally got the chance to see it with my friend Elaine this past weekend. It turned out to be bigger, better, and much more interesting than I ever thought it would be! Not only is the facility itself beautiful, but the collections and exhibitions are extensive, well-organized and documented, and really interesting! In fact, it is so large, we were there for several hours and did not get to see everything.

There are paintings ranging from traditional Western art of the 1800s to contemporary art, including a significant number of Andy Warhol works centered on Native Americans and the American West. The galleries are well-lit, well-organized, and well-documented. In my mind, that means the placard tells you the necessary things about the painting without telling you what to think about it, as many museums are now apt to do. Here at the Booth, they might give you some interesting background, but they do not interpret it for you. Thank heavens. There are many galleries consisting primarily of paintings, with some prints and drawings: the Mythic West Gallery, Modern West Gallery, Cowboy Gallery, Heading West Gallery, Faces Gallery, War is Hell Gallery, and the American West Gallery.

One sub-section of the Modern West Gallery was a hall of movie posters of famous Westerns, which brought back to mind some of my childhood cowboy heroes like Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, Gene Autry, and Bat Masterson. Of course, John Wayne was everywhere--posters, paintings, and even sculptures (so was Ronnie Reagan).

Famous Western figures and events from history were abundant throughout the museum, but especially upstairs. General Custer and "the last stand" were popular, as was "the shootout at the OK Corral." Remember that one? Geronimo has a section devoted to himself. The Native American tribes are well-represented on maps, in art, and in exhibitions of original objects and clothing. There are a couple of stagecoaches, and many, many sculptures, especially the large bronze ones that are usually associated with the American West. One particularly frightening one has a Native American warrior being snatched away by a huge eagle. Something went terribly wrong in the hunt.

The section of the museum that was a total surprise (and a nice one) to me was the Presidential Letters Gallery. Wow! This is an exhibit of a picture, a few interesting facts, and one original letters from every President of the United States! There is even a spot for President Obama's letter, with a little sign saying it is on its way! Most of the letters are hand-written, so there is a typed translation next to each of those. I just found that whole collection fascinating! And to think it is in Cartersville, GA!

Unfortunately, you cannot take photos inside, so the only ones I have are outside. It costs $10 for an adult and is open every day but Monday. You can view a fifteen-minute film about Western art and the Booth for free, and there is a nice gift shop. There is also a research section with more than 20,000 volumes and an interactive children's gallery organized like a working ranch.

Like I said, I didn't get to see it all, but I'm eager to go back again.


  1. I live in the real real west. (Jack)

  2. sounds wonderful! We saw an extensive western art museum in Ft Worth TX that peaked our interest big time. So sorry we missed this when we were in Atlanta 2 years ago! (Joan F.)

  3. The next time you go to the north country to visit your daughter in Watertown, you might think about driving north east on Route 3 to Ogdensburg, where they have a Frederick Remington Museum filled with his western bronze works. It is amazing, and a nice homage from his home town. They also have some interesting military stories from the war of 1812, and apparently Ogdensburg and the town across the river would spend the days trying to shell each other, and the evenings sitting down together to a good meal at a restaurant in Ogdensburg. A different kind of war.