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.