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Wyoming: In Jackson, a beastly museum turns 25

May 18, 2012|By Christopher Reynolds
  • Robert Kuhn's artwork "Message on the Wind" (1986) is part of an exhibition at the National Museum of Wildlife Art.
Robert Kuhn's artwork "Message on the Wind" (1986) is… (JKM Collection?, National…)

If you’re headed anywhere near Jackson, Wyo., this summer, leave open a few hours for the National Museum of Wildlife Art, which turns 25 this month.

The museum sits on a butte at the edge of Jackson, overlooking an elk refuge, and its collection includes paintings, sculpture and photography — a great way to glimpse nature in all four seasons, no matter when you're there.

I was introduced to the place two years ago. Besides beholding many great images of critters, I learned that the folk artist behind the “Peaceable Kingdom” image (lion, lamb, etc.,  gathered in an idyllic rural setting) was a 19th century Pennsylvania Quaker minister named Edward Hicks, who almost quit painting because some Shakers considered it dangerously frivolous. Once he decided to keep at it, though, he really kept at it: Hicks painted more than 60 versions of “Peaceable Kingdom” between 1820 and his death in 1849, and apparently made good money doing so. (One of those paintings is at the Museum of Wildlife Art. Another is at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Yet another is at the Brooklyn Museum in New York.)

This year’s exhibitions at the museum include “Rugged Impressionism: The Masterful Field Studies of Carl Rungius” (May 1- Oct. 7); “Bob Kuhn: Drawing on Instinct” (May 10 – Aug. 19); and a collection of National Geographic photos of the American West, which opens Oct. 27. The museum will also open a new sculpture trail June 14.

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