The Rockwell Museum of Western Art in Corning, NY is located in the city’s beautifully renovated former City Hall.
This is a fascinating museum in so many ways. Its focus is primarily 19th and 20th Century Western art, but the more recent additions are by contemporary Native and non-Native artists.
The exhibits are organized around People, Places and Ideas of the West rather than periods or artists. In many cases, these works present the artist’s sincere attempt to capture the West as it was. In other cases, they offer the artist’s interpretation of the West. This is humorously captured in a lithograph by Larry McNeil entitled “Edward Curtis’ Last Photograph” showing two Native American men objecting to Curtis’ stereotypical portraiture.
Two amazing temporary exhibitions are currently on display and run through October 4, 2009.
The show on the first floor is Visions Beyond Clay: The Artwork of Tammy Garcia of the famous Santa Clara Pueblo. Taking her heritage and the pottery skills learned from her clan and combining them with her amazing artistry, she breathes life into clay, bronze and glass for breathtaking results.
The second temporary exhibit, Sewing the Seeds: 200 Years of Iroquois Glass Beadwork, encompasses several thousand amazing pieces of beadwork collected by Dolores Elliott.
Many of the items in the collection were created by the Haudenosaunee people for tourists. The collection includes mocasins and picture frames, pin cushions and purses and detail intricate imagery based on nature.
Throughout the museum, all pieces are beautifully displayed and well curated revealing information about the artists and the works.
The permanent collection showcases pieces by Frederic Remington, Andrew Wyeth, Walter Ufer, Cyrus E. Dallin, and many other familiar artists and many wonderful works by artists I’d not encountered before.
I was concerned about whether this museum would be appropriate for my daughters, who are 9. This museum works for kids because they engage children through the use of a scavenger hunt, art packs for children’s use, displays throughout the museum that invite touch, and a small children’s Wild West area.
We had to make a quick stop at the Trading Post, which offers a fun assortment of items for sale, including books, jewelry, toys, gourmet food items and home decor. It was no surprise to me that we came home with 2 stuffed toy buffalos.
After our explorations, we stopped for lunch next door at the Cantina, part of the museum. Its southwestern decor and southwestern/mexican menu were a real treat. The food was tasty, reasonably priced and the service was great. If spicy foods are not your thing, don’t let that put you off. Some of the foods are deliciously hot and spicy, but others are mild, so you need only ask. Be sure to check out the humorous murals in the restrooms.
This museum was a great find! It’s open seven days a week from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the summer and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. throughout the year (closed Jan. 1, Thanksgiving Day & December 25). Admission is $6.50 for adults, $5.50 for age 55+, students w/ID and AAA members with ID; free for kids & teens (19 and under). It is located at 111 Cedar Street, Corning, NY.
By the way, when you exit the museum, look up to the second floor. You’ll see the museum’s mascot, a buffalo name Artemus (for “Art is a must”) “crashing” through the side of the building.
P.S. If you are interested in a guided tour of this museum, Ganondagan State Historic Site is offering a Tour and Day Trip from Victor, NY on August 29th to this museum, which includes round-trip bus, museum admission, snacks, lunch, and lectures by Iroquois Beadwork Expert Dolores Elliott and by renowned Seneca Artist and Museum Curator, G. Peter Jemison. For more on this tour, CLICK HERE.
For more on Corning, you may be interested in:
- A Snapshot of Corning’s History
- A Profile of the Radisson Hotel Corning
- Corning’s Gaffer District
- Corning Museum of Glass