One of the unexpected jewels of the Finger Lakes region of New York is the Rockwell Museum of Western Art. Known as the “Best of the West in the East,” this spectacular collection of art and sculpture is housed in a nineteenth-century building which has been beautifully renovated and provides the perfect backdrop for the exhibits within.
Iconic Figures of the Westward Movement
The idea of the Old West is romantic and iconic, and the art in this museum is a reflection of these times and places. Of course the Westward Expansion began in the East, so the story begins at home. The top floor of the museum is dedicated to the two primary images of the West: Cowboys and Native Americans. Other galleries include tributes to the majestic buffalo, the prairie lands, Manifest Destiny and the great explorations of the West. Each gallery and every display is a showcase for the Western movement as well as its land, animals and people.
More than 200 artists are featured in the museum, including such well known Western artists as Frederic Remington, N.C. Wyeth, Charles Marion Russell, William Robinson Leigh and Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. The museum regularly features new and exciting special exhibitions in addition to its regular displays of traditional and contemporary art, sculptures, landscape paintings and other significant works and objects which represent the Western exploration of America.
Special Features for Kids and Families
Because kids are important to the museum, it has developed a program designed specifically for its younger visitors combining creative fun with the presentation of interesting information. Each young person who visits the Rockwell Museum of Western Art can enjoy an Artpack, a backpack filled with puzzles, games and other interesting items which serve as a guide to appreciating the museum’s exhibits. The four subjects highlighted in the Artpacks include the things children love most about the West: cowboys, horses, Native Americans and the prairie wilderness. Kids can also dress up in old-time costumes and play in a tipi in the Kids’ West Play Area.
What You Need to Know
The Rockwell Museum of Western Art hosts a variety of educational and cultural events and is an integral part of the Finger Lakes wine region. The museum is open all year and admission is free for children age 19 and under. A free shuttle bus runs every fifteen minutes between historic downtown Corning and the museum. The Rockwell Museum Trading Post is open to the public and offers a wide variety of books, music, pottery and stationery, including a magnificent collection of silver and turquoise jewelry hand-crafted by Native Americans.
Like the scenery of the Finger Lakes area of upstate New York, the art in this museum is stunning, and you can travel across the country over hundreds of years without ever leaving the building. A visit to the Rockwell Museum of Western Art is the best and easiest way to immerse yourself in the spirit and drama of the Old West.