If fine art is what strikes your fancy, then this is the place for you. The Brinton Museum is a taste of the big city at the base of the Bighorns. The staff members are welcoming and are more than willing to answer any of your questions about the exhibits. Past and present come together in this truly unique facility that calls the Bighorn Mountains home. The intentions of the Brinton family were that people of all circumstances should be able to enjoy great works of art. Those intentions have been met for decades and continue to do so today.
A guided tour is available every half hour, beginning at 9:30 with the last tour starting at 4:30. Staff members give a thorough walk through of the Brinton home and surrounding grounds regaling the group with the history of the property and the reason it is a museum today. There are dozens of examples of western art works as well as Audubon drawings adorning the walls of the house. After taking a walkthrough of the home, there is a short walk up to the newly built facility that houses some of the best examples of Native American and contemporary art to be found in the Mountain West.
The rammed earth wall is one of the most striking features of the new building, with specific meaning to the placement of the wall. This wall is the largest rammed earth wall in North America and is likened to the rammed earth style of the Great Wall of China which has stood unprotected for over 2,000 years. Brinton staff members say that the wall at the Brinton is projected to last 2,000 years if not longer. The northern face of the wall is aimed toward the medicine wheel of the Bighorns, while the southern face is directed towards the Gallatin/Moncrieff ridge; symbolically bringing together the Plains Indians and the early white settlers, mirroring the collections that the Brinton offers.
The To Honor the Plains Indians exhibit has been blessed by a member of the Crow tribe and serves as a center for generations to observe the indigenous culture of the region. This exhibit has been specifically designed to be immersive from all angles with the Boots, Brushes and the Bighorn Mountains exhibit encircling the space. The pristine lighting lets you see every handcrafted work in awe inspiring detail. From 200-year-old photographs and colorful portraits to Sitting Bulls’ wife’s brass arm cuffs there is so much to absorb, that you hear the echo of the old west throughout the gallery.
Leaving the exhibits, you enter the dining space of the Brinton and you feel as though you have entered a different place and time. Shifting from the old west and 1890’s to the 2015’s and a swanky million dollar view of the Bighorn Mountains you can enjoy the contemporary comforts of the Brinton Bistro. The restaurant is open from 11 am to 2 pm and has both indoor and outdoor seating. Every dish is a work of culinary art. Whether you order a salad, wrap or a sandwich, it is best enjoyed with a glass of your favorite wine. Just off of the bistro is another fantastic exhibit, The Light Still Sheds in the Dark by Impressionist, Gregory Packard.
A unique blend of still life, landscapes and cityscapes line the walls with bright and textured paintings that give an intriguing view of the world from the artists’ perspective. The most striking of the works in the exhibit is the namesake piece of the show. The Light Still Sheds in the Dark is a superb example of pointillism and use of color theory which showcases the artists’ expertise. This piece is a whimsical view of a snow covered street that reminds the viewer of their favorite Christmas shopping venue. Another engaging piece, Transformation, is painted in a different yet beautiful style with almost chaotic broad strokes that makes the campfire glow and almost leap out of its frame. Not only is the artist a painter, but he handcrafts the frames specifically for his works. Packard’s work encompasses an impressive variety and is a must see for any Brinton visitor.
Whatever your taste, there is plenty to see but keep in mind that these exhibits are only here for a short time. In order to keep the space fresh and vibrant, the museum has a rotating exhibition schedule. The Boots, Brushes and the Bighorn Mountains and The Light Still Sheds in the Dark exhibits will be leaving September 7 with the Brinton Small Works Show opening on September 13. The To Honor the Plains Indian’ exhibit will be at the Brinton until December 31 so you will have more time to see it before it leaves. If you have not taken a trip out to this ranch turned artistic mecca, then you should take a day to do so. The Brinton Staff suggest that you plan for at least five hours to visit, so that you can truly embrace the full Brinton experience. So go ahead and take a drive, they are excited to see you!
By Savannah Hennigh