travel

Rockwell Museum — authentic art, honest history, and the Old West in Corning, New York

Few things intrigue the American imagination like the Old West.  In the story of taming the land, we see the story of our own lives.  The raw earthy impetuousness of youth gives way to the elevated deliberate polish of maturity.  It’s necessary; we can’t go on being brash and infantile forever.  But it does evoke a wistful feeling that something authentic has been lost.

In 1881, Frederic Remington left his native New York for Montana.  There the 19-year-old caught glimpses of the disappearing West that he would soon capture in his art.  And it’s through the arts now that we can envision life then.

Rockwell Museum

The Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York, displays a collection of American art, particularly western and native.  Even the Museum’s building and its location evoke a certain poignancy.  The Museum sits in the quaint Gaffer District, which recalls the area’s 19th-century heyday.  It’s housed in the 1893 red-brick Old City Hall.  And it’s on land that belonged to the Seneca.

Its colorful native collections show remarkable attention to detail in making practical objects beautiful.

Rockwell Museum

A Mohawk infant’s cradleboard depicts birds, flowers, and greenery.

Rockwell Museum

A pair of Dakota child’s buckskin moccasins glimmer with glass beads.

Coolidge-Dawes

Most surprising of all, a Cheyenne girl’s dress incorporates thimbles promoting President Calvin Coolidge and his 1924 running mate Charles Dawes.  These would have been tossed out to the crowds during a cross-country road rally.

Coolidge-Dawes

After his 1925 re-Inauguration, President Coolidge signed the Indian Citizenship Act, which granted full citizenship to all native Americans living in the United States.

The Museum maintains seven Remingtons, of which three were on display when I visited.

Frederic Remington

Two were sculptures, including “The Rattlesnake”, a bronze work that depicts a cowboy struggling to hold on to both his hat and his horse, as the animal rears up from a rattlesnake on the ground.

Frederic Remington

The lone Remington painting on display was “Cutting out a Steer”.  The artist created the work in black-and-white because it accompanied “The Round-Up”, an 1888 Century Magazine article by Theodore Roosevelt, who owned a ranch in North Dakota.  Like Coolidge after him, Roosevelt would later become Vice President, assume the presidency upon the death of the incumbent, and then be re-elected in his own right.  And like Remington, he was a New Yorker who felt the lure of the vanishing West.

What to Know before You Go to the Rockwell Museum in Corning, New York

The Rockwell Museum is located at 111 Cedar Street, Corning, New York.  There is complimentary parking behind the Museum, as well as nearby street parking and paid city lots.  There is also a free shuttle with stops at the Rockwell Museum, the Corning Museum of Glass, and Market Street.  Allow one to two hours.

Do you love travel, food, and little-known stories of people from the past? Sign up for our monthly newsletter!

* indicates required

Privacy laws require us to make sure you understand that giving us your email address allows us to email you.

You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of our emails.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking below to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.

Rockwell Museum -- authentic art, honest history, and the Old West in Corning, New York

2 thoughts on “Rockwell Museum — authentic art, honest history, and the Old West in Corning, New York

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.