The building in which the Rockwell Museum of Western Art is housed was built in 1893; the same year that Frederick Jackson Turner declared the West as closed'.
The Museum collection was founded with an acquisition that turned out to be a fake. Bob Rockwell purchased a "Remington" oil painting in Elmira and proudly displayed it. On a trip west, Bob showed a photograph of it to Dr. Harold McCracken, then Director of The Buffalo Bill Historical Society and an expert in western art. McCracken gave him the bad news.
On the Trail in Winter, a painting in the Rockwell Museum collection by Henry Farney, was used as cinematography inspiration for the film, Dances with Wolves. This painting is currently on view as the Curators Pick: Featured Painting of the Season on the second floor of the Museum.
The Rockwell Museum originally opened in November 1976 on the second floor of the Baron Steuben Hotel Building and was named the Rockwell-Corning Museum.
Old City Hall was built by Thomas Bradley and Company for the low bid of $28,579.50 and opened in 1893. Before becoming the Rockwell Museum of Western Art, the building housed hook-and-ladder trucks, horse stalls, firemens quarters, jail cells, tax collectors office, a dentist and public health office, council chambers and the mayors office.
A Mix Up by Charles M. Russell was on view in the State Department in Washington DC until it was returned to Corning for the Rockwell Museum opening in 1976.
The Museum apparently is home to a ghost named Jake. His presence has been noticed by Museum staff and volunteers and he seems to be friendly.
The Museum collection comprises almost 4,000 pieces of art including paintings, sculptures, prints, and Native American ethnographic material.
The oldest object in the Museum collection dates to c. 900-1200 (10th-12th centuries) and is a prehistoric polychrome ceramic vessel from the American Southwest (Anasazi culture).
Biggest misconception? The Rockwell Museum of Western Art is commonly confused to be the Norman Rockwell museum. While this is clearly untrue, the Rockwell collection does include one Norman Rockwell painting! Entitled The Buffalo Hunt, this black and white oil painting is on view in the Buffalo Gallery.
The collection contains masterworks by nineteenth and early twentieth century painters and sculptors like Remington, Russell, Bierstadt, Sharp, Dallin, Moran as well as recent works by Native American and emerging western artists like Butterfield, Quick-to-See Smith, Warhol, WalkingStick, and McHorse.
Corning Glass Works (now Corning Incorporated) bought the building from the City of Corning for $1.00.
The staff and volunteers of the Rockwell Museum of Western Art served over 5,000 students in 2011 at no charge to school and other student groups.
Museum visitors are greeted by an 800-pound Indian head that was cast in 1929 using Pyrex® brand glass by Frederick Carder. It was originally ordered for a centennial celebration in the Midwest. When the centennial planners came to preview the sculpture, the mold was removed too soon and the still hot sculpture cracked through its center. This piece eventually was purchased by Bob Rockwell (the Museums founding collector) for his Corning department store. Later it was moved to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art and now greets our visitors.
The Bronco Buster, by Frederic Remington, is the one of the most recognized bronze statues in the world. An original casting is on display in the Oval Office at the Whitehouse and the Remington and Russell Lodge of the Rockwell Museum of Western Art.
The Corning community is fortunate that Montana Winter Scene survived long enough to become part of the Rockwell Museum of Western Art collection. The painting was discovered during the demolition of a house in Elmira, New York, minutes before being plowed under by a bulldozer. Museum staff quickly discovered that the painting was done by a leading western illustrator, Harvey Dunn.
The value of volunteer hours to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in 2011 was an astonishing $19,500.
Edward Grandt, a longtime physician working in Elmira, New York, donated his fine collection of Indian art and Indian-themed art to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art in 2011.
Displayed at the Paris Salon of 1880 and hailed in 1883 by a critic as one of the truly great landscapes of our country, Mount Whitney is an oil painting that measures nearly 6 feet high by 10 feet wide. This monumental canvas is on prominent display in the Visions of the West gallery.
Appeal to the Great Spirit, 1909, a sculpture by Cyrus Dallin, was used as the logo for the Beach Boys vanity record label Brother Records.
The Rockwell Museum of Western Art collection of art includes a suite of ten original silk-screens by Andy Warhol a renowned leading figure of the visual art movement known as pop-art. The suite entitled, Andy Warhol: Cowboys & Indians, was donated to the Rockwell Museum by the Houghton family.
The third floor gallery features the extraordinarily large painting, The Buffalo Hunt, by William Robinson Leigh. Measuring at nearly 7 feet tall and 10 feet wide, the painting is so large that it was brought into the Museum by crane over the Museums outdoor Terrace because it wouldnt fit up the staircase.
The iron door to the women's jail was retained in all of the buildings renovation projects and is now on view near the first floor exhibition gallery.
The Museum collection of works by Charles Russell and Frederic Remington is extensive, and includes some of the best-known world famous works by each of these artists.
One of the most famous paintings in the Museum collection is A Mix Up by Charles Russell. This painting is scheduled to travel to Calgary, Alberta Canada for the 100th Anniversary of the Calgary Stampede. Over a million attendees are expected to attend the Stampede event in July 2012.
In the painting, Clouds in the Canyon by Thomas Moran, includes the artists thumb print as part of his signature. Many artists did this to ensure its authenticity.
The Rockwell Museum of Western Art was the host to an Appraisal Day in 2011 where a painting titled Winter, an oil painting by Walter Launt Palmer (American: 1854-1932) was discovered. To the owners surprise, Heritage Auctions® declared its auction worth of between $150,000 - $200,000.
Over 800 community service hours were completed by local Corning high school students to complete the two murals as a part of the Alley Art Mural Project. That is over 33 days of work.
In 2011, the Rockwell Museum of Western Art hosted more people than 3-times the population of Corning, NY.