Exhibitions

Past Exhibitions

George Catlin's American Buffalo

In Partnership with the Smithsonian American Art Museum

May 10 2013 - August 25 2013

Traveling Exhibition

BUFFALO COW GRAZING ON THE PRAIRIE, 1832 - 1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, GEORGE CATLIN, United States, 1796 - 1872

BUFFALO CHASE, A SURROUND BY THE HIDATSA, 1832 - 1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, GEORGE CATLIN, United States, 1796 - 1872

BUFFALO CHASE WITH BOWS AND LANCES, 1832 - 1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, GEORGE CATLIN, United States, 1796 - 1872

BUFFALO CHASE, BULLS MAKING BATTLE WITH MEN AND HORSES, 1832 - 1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, GEORGE CATLIN, United States, 1796 - 1872

BUFFALO HUNT UNDER THE WOLF-SKIN MASK, 1832 - 1833, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, GEORGE CATLIN, United States, 1796 - 1872

BACK VIEW OF MANDAN VILLAGE, SHOWING THE CEMETERY, 1832, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, GEORGE CATLIN, United States, 1796 - 1872

EE-AH-SA-PA, BLACK ROCK, A TWO KETTLE CHIEF, 1832, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, GEORGE CATLIN, United States, 1796 - 1872

BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF THE MANDAN VILLAGE, 1800 MILES ABOVE ST. LOUIS, 1837- 1839, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, GEORGE CATLIN, United States, 1796 - 1872

BULL DANCE, MANDAN O-KEE-PA CEREMONY, 1832, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, GEORGE CATLIN, United States, 1796 - 1872

MEDICINE BUFFALO OF THE SIOUX, 1837 - 1839, oil on canvas, Smithsonian American Art Museum, GEORGE CATLIN, United States, 1796 - 1872

About the Exhibition

George Catlin was among the earliest artists of European descent to chronicle the massive herds of buffalo roaming the Great Plains of the American West. In many works, Catlin portrayed how truly imbedded the great mammal was in the daily lives of American Indian tribes. His brilliant canvases show how the buffalo was used in multiple facets of daily life, from food and shelter to ceremony and naming. Catlin noted that without some greater measure of restraint on the part of advancing settlers, the buffalo would soon be eradicated from the plains. He called for the establishment of a “nation’s Park” set aside from development as a refuge for both buffalo and native tribes. His vision came true, in part, in 1872 with the foundation of Yellowstone, the world’s first national park.

George Catlin’s American Buffalo presents 40 original Catlin paintings accompanied by informative label copy exploring his representation of the Native American/buffalo relationship. Catlin’s role as an early proponent of wilderness conservation and national parks will also be examined. This exhibit is located in the Gilcrease and Changing Visions Galleries.

This is a traveling exhibit. Participating Museums include:

Palm Springs Art Museum in Palm Springs, California (October 1, 2013–December 29, 2013)
Wichita Art Museum in Wichita, Kansas (February 1, 2014–May 11, 2014)
C.M. Russell Museum in Great Falls, Montana (May 31, 2014–Sept. 14, 2014)
Mennello Museum of American Art in Orlando, Florida (October 4, 2014–January 1, 2015)
Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston Salem, North Carolina (February 12, 2015–May 3, 2015)
Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon, Texas (May 30, 2015–August 30, 2015)


"George Catlin’s American Buffalo" is organized by the Smithsonian American Art Museum in collaboration with the National Museum of Wildlife Art. Many generous contributors helped support the exhibition, catalogue, and tour. Mary Anne and Richard W. Cree and Lynn and Foster Friess made generous donations to the exhibition. The William R. Kenan, Jr. Endowment Fund and the Smithsonian Council for American Art provided support for the publication of the catalogue.  The C.F. Foundation in Atlanta supports the museum’s traveling exhibition program, "Treasures to Go".

For more information about hosting this traveling exhibition, please contact:
Adam Harris, Petersen Curator of Art and Research

ContactAdam Duncan Harris, Ph.D.Petersen Curator of Art and Research

Generously sponsored by Jan & Bob Benz, Jaclyn and Nelson R. Braddy, Jr., Tania & Tom Evans, Lynn & Foster Friess, Tally & Bill Mingst, Oklahoma City Friends, Linda & Larry Perlman, Jane & Nelson Schwab, Spring Creek Ranch, Mindy & Glenn Stearns.