SADDLE UP!

The Wild West gallops onto the River Walk in the Briscoe’s newest exhibition

The Wild West gallops onto the River Walk in the Briscoe’s new exhibit

Western movie posters
A variety of Western movie posters will set the scene for the exhibition. Courtesy of Briscoe Western Art Museum
John Wayne in The Searchers
You can't have a Hollywood Western show without highlighting The Duke, John Wayne. Courtesy of Briscoe Western Art Museum
John Wayne's Chisum shirt
Several costumes worn by John Wayne, including this shirt from the film Chisum, will be on display. Courtesy of Briscoe Western Art Museum
Western movie posters
John Wayne in The Searchers
John Wayne's Chisum shirt

Hey, cowpokes, it’s dang near time to strap on your boots and spurs, mount up, and trot on over to the Briscoe Western Art Museum for a special exhibition.

Still in the Saddle: A New History of the Hollywood Western, running at the Briscoe May 28-September 6, showcases classic Hollywood Westerns through the lens of historic events, and includes a whole herd of related happenings.

As part of the exhibition, the Briscoe will be transformed into a 1960s-style movie theater — complete with a red carpet, displayed movie costumes, velvet ropes, the smell of theater popcorn wafting, authentic lobby cards, and nearly 60 vintage movie posters to set the scene. Screens set up throughout the exhibition will feature film clips that are particularly representative of the Western genre, and costumes worn by The Duke himself, John Wayne, in the films The Cowboys, Chisum, and The Undefeated will be on display.

“In the 1940s and ’50s, the Western was the most popular movie genre in America. Even through the social unrest, political turmoil, economic uncertainty, and generational change we witnessed from 1969 to 1980, Hollywood Westerns continued to capture audience attention,” says Michael Duchemin, president and CEO of the Briscoe. “As the world outside of the theater doors changed, many thought the Western would ride off into the sunset. Yet the Western remained as rich and complex as at any time in its history. Looking at these films in the social context of the period provides a renewed appreciation of the stories these films share.”

Though the folks at the Briscoe certainly know their way around the Old West, for the Still in the Saddle show, they’ve roped guest curator Dr. Andrew Patrick Nelson, a historian of American cinema and culture, who’s also the chair of the Department of Film and Media Arts and an associate professor of film studies at the University of Utah. And as the author and editor of numerous books and essays on Western cinema, including Still in the Saddle: The Hollywood Western, 1969-1980 and Contemporary Westerns: Film and Television since 1990, Nelson seamlessly helped transform the museum into a bona fide Hollywood Western landscape.

In addition to an exhibition preview party May 27, the Briscoe will also host a meet and greet and curator’s talk on May 29.

And in concert with the exhibition, the Briscoe is rolling out the return of its Summer Film Series, hosting an iconic film showing the third Sunday of each summer month. Here’s the schedule:

  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, May 30
  • Little Big Man, June 20
  • True Grit, July 18
  • The Long Riders, August 22
  • The Shootist, September 5

Film showings are free for members and $10 for non-members. General admission to the Briscoe and a film ticket only runs $12. But since you don’t want to miss any of the Western action, the best option is the Briscoe Summer Cinema pass, which includes three films for $25. Or check out all five films for $50 and get an individual museum membership good for the Briscoe’s exhibitions and programming throughout the year. Tickets are available online.

And considering you’ll learn all there is to know about Hollywood cowboys throughout the exhibition and film series, you’ll definitely want to check out the Briscoe’s first Wild West Trivia Night. Hosted in the museum’s McNutt Sculpture Garden on June 10, the event will include beer, wine, signature cocktails, light bites, and all the Western trivia worth cowboying up for. The top three teams still in the saddle by night’s end will win prizes.

Check out the Briscoe’s website for more info on the Still in the Saddle exhibition and related events, and to learn about the museum’s COVID-19 safety protocols.