The Museum of the West opened in Scottsdale last December. I had been interested in checking it out and finally made this month. They aren't a museum of Arizona, but more about the forces that shaped the western United States, mostly depicted through art. And the art is mostly what you think of as realistic, western paintings, but I enjoyed it much more than I thought I would. They were really well done. So I am going to do two blog entries. The first is the beginning of the museum and the special exhibition of Lewis and Clark. The second will be the rest of the museum. Lots of photos of paintings. So if you aren't interested, you can just skip it.
First, the museum is really interesting outside. They have these xeriscape plantings with the rocks, bigger rocks, all laid in lines, and patterns, not just randomly arranged. It was cool.
There are a lot of bronzes in the museum, starting with this one outside. They are really amazing in person. There is an incredible amount of texture, feeling and emotion that they have been able to get out metal. I was very impressed.
This exhibit was all about one artist, who took the journals of Lewis and Clark, and revisited the sites described. He then painted the scenes they described from the actual sites, at the same time of year. He spent 10 years doing this. It's a lot of paintings and a lot of dedication, and frankly, way more interesting than it sounds. He took into account what the men were feeling like at these different points in the expedition. I didn't expect to care that much and it turned out fascinating, a history lesson in paintings.
He starts with them looking fresh, excited and the beginning of their trip.
The expedition had one death, from a burst appendix, a lethal condition in the early 1800's. This depicts the sadness as they bear their comrade to a final resting place.
Another visit to an Indian tribe. All their interactions were peaceful, except one on their way back.
Sacajawea is in the foreground here. She was prominent throughout the paintings, depicting her great role.
An Indian tribe had told them about a great bear in the area, a grizzley. They did not think it would be a problem for them with their guns. They shot 6 times and still had to run. They did not kill the bear.
York was a Black man who came along as a personal servant for the two men. According to the records, he was also instrumental in the success of the journey. I had not heard of him before.
When the reached the Shoshone people, Sacajawea was very happy. She had not been around her own people in many years.
This is a small detail of a larger painting, where they are trying to approach some Crow Indians and show themselves as peaceful.
The Indians showed them a better way to make the canoes, instead of carving them from logs, burning the insides out.
The sight of Mt. Hood in the distance was exhilarating. They knew they were getting close to their goal of the pacific ocean.
They were miserable through the winter. They went to the coast to see if they could find a beached whale and use the blubber.
On the journey back, an encounter with a Crow Indian resulted in their shooting and killing him. The next several days, they raced to put a 100 miles between them and the Crows, as they feared reprisals.
This rock is where Lewis and Clark carved their names on the way back. Many other travelers did too, afterwards. It is now a national monument.
The men and boat is in much different shape after almost two years.