The brick four-story Victorian building at 1727 Tremont Place says “Navarre” on its facade, but today it has a new life as the American Museum of Western Art, and houses the impressive Western art collection belonging to businessman Phil …
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The brick four-story Victorian building at 1727 Tremont Place says “Navarre” on its facade, but today it has a new life as the American Museum of Western Art, and houses the impressive Western art collection belonging to businessman Phil Anschutz.Art lovers will want to know that open hours and programming are extended in this beautifully restored building, constructed in 1880 as the Brinker Collegiate Institute — a school for young ladies.Its checkered history includes a period as a bordello, a restaurant, a jazz club and purchase by the Anschutz Corp. in 1997. In 2010, it became the American Museum of Western Art, a home for the formerly private Anschutz Collection, opening on a regular schedule in 2012.It displays more than 300 paintings, sculptures and drawings by more than 180 artists and spans about 200 years of American history. Special programming this summer looks at travel and transportation technology, with a lecture on Aug. 12, “Colorado Connections,” by Brian Trembath, special collections librarian for Western history and genealogy with the Denver Public Library.Isabella Bird's first look at Rocky Mountain National Park and Czar Nicholas' hunt with the world-famous Buffalo Bill Cody will be discussed.The collection is displayed in salon style — hung from floor to ceiling — as it would have been when this building and many of the earlier works were created. The high ceilings and excellent lighting design allow each work to shine on its own — or interact with those around it, depending on the viewer's inclination.Each floor includes a more intimate space, furnished like an elegant parlor, at the elevator stops, with portraits, small sculptures and some decorative art — worth a look even if you choose to climb the stairs. Ernest Fecchin's portrait of Mabel Dodge Luhan faces in towards the third floor gallery, which includes many works by the Taos artists she influenced.The main floor gallery, on the second floor, offers a mostly chronological look at the development of Western art, starting with early expeditionary artists such as George Catlin and Alfred Jacob Miller, who accompanied military, exploratory and fur trade expeditions in the early 1800s. Catlin recorded images of Mandan Indian ceremonies while Moran and Bierstadt portrayed the dramatic landscape. Charles Russell and Frederic Remington painted Western life just after the Civil War, when rapid change was taking place.In the third floor gallery, images commissioned by the Santa Fe Railroad stand out. Many are painted by members of the Taos Society of Artists (1915 to 1927) — European-trained painters who were drawn to New Mexico by both light and lifestyle: Ernest Blumenschein, Henry Sharp, Bert Phillips, Ernest Fecchin … Later comers were Georgia O'Keeffe, John Marin, Marsden Hartley, N.C. Wyeth and Maxfield Parrish.The fourth floor gallery is arranged around themes: travel, Western scenery through the lens of Hudson River painters, New Deal art, American Regional painting and more recent Abstract Expressionism.If you goThe American Museum of Western Art is located at 1727 Tremont Place (across from the Brown Palace), Denver. It is open for public tours at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays: High Noon Explorations — view on your lunch hour. School and group tours by appointment Tuesdays and Thursdays. Special topic conversations, “Artful Insights,” will be held at noon on the first Monday and 3 p.m. on the third Monday. Advance registration is encouraged since attendance is limited. On Colorado Day, Aug. 1, special self-guided tours are available at 10 and 11:45 a.m. and 1:30 and 3 p.m. The museum offers an audio guide for these and other self-guided tours. Admission: guided tours, $10 adults/$7 students and seniors; self-guided tours, general admission $5. AnschutzCollection.org, 303-293-2000.
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