Big Horn, WY
To Honor the Plains Nations showcases Plains Indian art and artifacts from the Goelet and Edith Gallatin and the Bradford Brinton Memorial Collections.
Edith and Goelet Gallatin arrived in Big Horn in 1910 and became neighbors of Bradford Brinton when he purchased the adjacent Quarter Circle A Ranch in 1923. Brinton possessed a keen eye for fine art and collected Western and American Indian pieces from the area and beyond. His collection grew to include a wide variety of artifacts from the Cheyenne, Sioux and Crow tribes of the Plains region.
The history of the Gallatin Collection is somewhat different. Edith and Goelet were known for their hospitality, and throughout the 1920s and 30s their friends from the Crow Nation would camp along the banks of Little Goose Creek where it ran through the Gallatin property. During their visits the Crow brought gifts to the Gallatins, which included artifacts of significance to their tribe, as well as items acquired from other tribes. The objects ranged from war bonnets and war shirts to loop necklaces, pipes and pipe bags, to women’s beaded robes and one beaded cradle. Edith’s close connection with the Crow People grew such that they adopted her, and in 1934 her father Little Nest placed one of the Crow sacred bundles in her care. This gesture blessed Edith and the American Indian pieces she had acquired.
Hence, the Gallatin Collection is a result of mutual respect and admiration between Edith Gallatin and the Crow People. Crow families continued to be frequent visitors to the Gallatin Ranch until the couple passed away, Edith in 1944 and Goelet in 1962.
Edith and Goelet were survived by their daughter Beatrice Gallatin Beuf, who inherited the American Indian art which was on display throughout the large family ranch house. As a memorial to her parents, in 1972 Beatrice Gallatin Beuf presented a large portion of the collection to The Foundation for the Preservation of American Indian Art and Culture, Inc., founded by her friend Father Peter J. Powell. To preserve, maintain and show the artifacts as intended, Father Powell moved the collection to the Chicago Art Institute for display and safe-keeping.
More than forty years later, the Goelet and Edith Gallatin Collection has returned home to the foothills of the Bighorns. In 2014 the entire collection was gifted to The Brinton Museum and is now cared for and exhibited in the new Forrest E. Mars Jr. Building at The Brinton Museum alongside gems from the Bradford Brinton Memorial Collection.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website