View of the museum from the street

View of the museum from the street

The Sid Richardson Museum is in downtown Fort Worth in a lovely storefront, just a hop, skip and a jump from Sundance Square. We tried to see it once before, but it was a holiday and though the museum store was open, the exhibition halls were not. I am so glad we went back!

Going in, I assumed that the museum was all Frederic Remington’s work. I was wrong about that – and wrong to think that all Remington did were bronzes! The main collection is primarily Remington and Charles Russell, and mainly oils by both. The quality of the painting is wonderful. It is equal to many of the famous names painting at the same time.

Why this work was not included in my art history courses probably has to do with the subject matter, “western themes.” Yes, cowboys and Indians, soldiers, buffalo…but just as with saints and martyrs there is a lot to learn through these paintings.

So start with the fact that they are a joy to look at for their technical mastery. Second to that is the story each painting tells – no doubt about a facet of American history and culture that most of us know only through western movies. If Russell and Remington cannot make you feel at one with their subjects, no matter how far from your reality, I suspect no one could. The sense of action and danger of a battle scene or the sense of tension that grows as you watch Indians peer through foliage at prospectors is nearly palpable.

In one painting I especially liked, (“A Taint on the Wind”, by Remington) there are frightened coach horses staring wild-eyed out of the picture, the coach stopped behind them, lanterns still swinging. You have to wonder is what is frightening them. Is it animal or human?

The third reason you will like this museum is that guide to the paintings is so well written. Sure, you could see the museum without reading about the work, but why would you? There are only about 30 paintings on display, and reading a paragraph about each will enrich your experience, and add no more than an additional 20 minutes to a what otherwise might be a 10 minute visit. (That’s the fourth reason: It is small!)

The day we were there a second special exhibition was hung in the smaller gallery. Equally interesting, the work pre-dated that of Remington and Russell, and explored some of the same themes. Don’t miss the stories behind the works – the lives of these artists are as interesting as the work they produced.

And then there is the patron himself, Sid Richardson, the “millionaire bachelor.” His story is a rags to riches one that has repercussions all over Fort Worth, including on the TCU Campus.

If you want to plan a visit, here again is the main link to the museum.

And, just for fun, here are some photos of the area around Sundance Square.

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