The museum situated on the banks of the San Antonio River Walk in the heart of downtown which brings to life the lively culture and heritage of the Western United States. This wonderfully reconstructed 1930s former San Antonio Public Library building provides a permanent collection of Western art and artifacts presented in nine galleries. Through painting, photography, historical relics, and sculpture, the Briscoe create stories of the American Indian, American Cowboy, Vaquero, pioneering women, and others that define the American West. There is an outside garden which houses many outstanding sculptures and the work inside the museum is just as impressive. Only three small floors but definitely worth the time; their Western Art collection is awesome! The colossal bronze sculpture of a cowboy driving cattle along the River Walk behind the museum is undoubtedly striking as you walked into the museum to see what is inside.
The exhibition has three levels. Level 1: Artists tell their tales of the American West through sculptures and paintings. Inspiration from the earlier disputes, vast panoramas, and new and old traditions converge here to show how the West was founded. In level 2: The American West is seen through the eyes of the “newcomers” as adventure, romantic, desert and opportunities. Artists get the chance to show their dreams and concerns about the West. The Native peoples and newcomers view the American West as home, a place to care for or nurture. The final level shows the times of native warriors or hunters on horses to closed wagons moving across the rough territory to railroads; the American West has developed from its “romantic” times. This level also shows how the American West is continuously progressing.
The artifact collection is marvelous, from Pancho Villas saddle to a Cannon used at the Alamo battle. The various artwork throughout is superb, the best collection of Western art. There are marvelous paintings, beautiful bronzes, a prairie wagon, a stagecoach, and even a parade saddle of Pancho Villa where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the magnitude and ferocity of the Battle. Western art and Indian drawing developed in 1860 including, Hollywood and Pancho Villa, rebel, movie stars, hero, outlaws. Outstanding Western art and sculptures fill this beautiful building. They also have interesting contemporary Santa Clara Pueblo Pottery. Do not miss this exceptional display of Mexican folk art paintings at the Briscoe.
From the huge bronze in the entrance to the most delicate oil painting, from the Buffalo Indian Head motif throughout the building to the leather on the staircase – this museum is unique. It also has a museum shop which sells jewelry, books, soaps, leather goods, and other western-themed souvenirs/gifts. They also have several stations at displays in the museum where you can put on earphones and listen to recordings and histories of the display.
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