Museum-goers can wind their way through eight galleries filled with paintings, artifacts and sculptures that showcase the people, cultures, landscapes and history of the American West. Thought-provoking pieces are everywhere you look – you’ll want to carve out a few hours to see it all.
Supporting living artists was a priority for Mary and Tom James, so much of the museum’s artwork has been created since the 1980s. Visitors will find a variety of perspectives, from Western art pioneers to Native American artists.
The upstairs galleries are grouped by theme and splashed in bold colors that represent the tones of the Southwest. Start in the Introductory Gallery, filled with more figurative bronze sculptures of 19th-century Native American leaders as well as large-scale paintings that depict the West's majestic landscapes.
Peruse the Native Artists Gallery to see pieces by 20th- and 21st-century Indigenous American artists created in a variety of styles and techniques. Tom and Mary James met many of artists displayed in this gallery at the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico.
The Early West Gallery is home to the museum’s oldest Western paintings, most of which predate 1950. The New West Gallery showcases Western art that’s been influenced by pop art, surrealism, cubism and other art movements, so guests will see works with bold colors and unexpected visual styles.
Works by contemporary artists portraying life in the West's many tribes from the late 1700s to early 1900s fill the Native Life Gallery. In the Frontier Gallery, stories of cowboys, outlaws, fur traders and Buffalo Soldiers come to life in paintings and sculptures. Artists play to and challenge stereotypes of these American icons.
Step inside The Jewelry Box, bathed in rich color and low light and fashioned after a geode, to browse the impressive collection of Native American jewelry, most of which Mary James has worn.
Wild and fascinating, the Wildlife Gallery is home to a menagerie of animals crafted with intense details that highlight their behaviors and natural habitats.