The Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Whitney Western Art Museum hosts a major symposium in conjunction with the upcoming special exhibition Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West. The all-day event on Saturday, June 16, brings together top scholars to investigate Bierstadt’s (1830–1902) life, legacy, and art.
“Bierstadt’s name likely conjures visions of sweeping landscapes,” says Karen McWhorter, Scarlet Curator of Western American Art for the Whitney, “but with this symposium we hope to foster a greater appreciation for Bierstadt as a history painter.” The six speakers offer fresh perspectives on the artist and the era in which he painted. The day’s discussion sheds new light on the artistic, social, and environmental histories of America in the late nineteenth century.
McWhorter notes, “The scholars we’ve assembled will help craft a nuanced portrait of the artist—a complex man who lived during a time of great change.” Presenters are set to examine Bierstadt’s history paintings featuring Plains Indians and the American bison. In so doing, they explore the artist’s engagement with not just the aesthetic issues of his time, but also contemporary debates around wildlife conservation, national parks, and the destiny of Indigenous Peoples of the West.
By looking beyond the grand landscape paintings for which Bierstadt is most famous, the symposium—as well as the special exhibition and companion publication—addresses Bierstadt as a principal chronicler of a changing West. In its thorough reexamination of Bierstadt, Witness to a Changing West holds appeal for western art and history enthusiasts.
Symposium presenters include:
- Peter H. Hassrick, Director Emeritus and Senior Scholar, Buffalo Bill Center of the West
- Karen McWhorter, Scarlett Curator of Western American Art, Whitney Western Art Museum, Buffalo Bill Center of the West
- Dr. Emily C. Burns, Assistant Professor of Art History, Auburn University
- Dr. Dan L. Flores, Environmental Historian
- Melissa W. Speidel, Director, Bierstadt Foundation
- Laura Fry, Curator of Art, Gilcrease Museum
- Arthur Amiotte, Independent Scholar
Cost for the symposium is $25 for students; $55 for Center of the West members; and $65 for non-members. Pre-registration is encouraged and can be completed online at centerofthewest.org/event/symposium-albert-bierstadt. Registrants enjoy free admission to all five of the Center’s museums for the day. The symposium, which includes lunch, takes place from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.; on-site check-in opens at 8 a.m.
The Albert Bierstadt: Witness to a Changing West symposium is sponsored by friends of the Whitney Western Art Museum. Western Art Collector magazine serves as media sponsor of the symposium.
The special exhibition of the same name opens to the public on June 8. For information about the symposium or the exhibition, contact Whitney Curatorial Assistant Nicole Harrison at [email protected] or 307-578-4051. The Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s full calendar—including symposia, programs, talks, and other activities—can be found at centerofthewest.org/calendar.
Since 1917, the award-winning Buffalo Bill Center of the West in Cody, Wyoming—just an hour east of Yellowstone National Park—has devoted itself to sharing the story of the authentic American West. The Center is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution. For more information, visit centerofthewest.org or the Center’s Facebook page. #100YearsMore