August 13, 2015

8/11/15 - Charles M. Bair Family Museum

While spending a week at White Sulphur Springs, Montana, we went with another couple to the Charles M. Bair Family Museum in Martinsdale.  I didn't have a clue who Charles M. Bair was either, but it was a rather interesting excursion.  Charles Bair made a fortune in the Yukon Gold Rush, then became one of the largest sheep ranchers in the world. Just as we got there, a home tour was starting, so we followed the directions and met them out by the garage.

Charles Russell was a friend of the Bairs. This painting above the fireplace was done by him.
Try to find the framed envelopes and letters decorated by Russell. Even if you're not interested in western art, it would be cool to get an envelope like this.
The 26-room, 11,000 square feet house is full of eclectic art and antiques gathered by daughters Marguerite and Alberta on trips to New York and Europe.  Their bedrooms are pretty cool.  Check out the table at the end of the bed on the left below--then look at the feathered hat in the closeup. Love it!

After the house tour, we went to the barn, where there's a gift shop and a history display of the ranch. You'd think 300,000 sheep would have warranted a bigger room.
It was actually pretty cool to have just seen a painting hanging in its original location in someone's house, and then immediately see it again in the art museum.  The copies are in the house; the originals are in the museum where the security is better.  There are galleries for Native American collections, western paintings, modern paintings.

There's a big display of Native American artifacts, with a real high-tech index. This is a picture of Case 1 on the computer screen. 
Touch something on the screen and you get a popup with details about it.
This is a closeup of the Elktooth Dress in the display. (Seriously? Elk teeth? I'll have to think about that awhile.) 
It's a nice museum, but seems a little odd to see paintings like this one in a gallery next to the western gallery.  Must be why it's a family museum.
Certainly not what I'd have expected in a tiny town in the middle of Montana, but it was pretty cool. Click on the link for more pictures of the antique version of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous:  Charles M. Bair Family Museum 

Another day while we were at White Sulphur Springs, we drove up Kings Hill Scenic Byway (Hwy 89) and went for a little hike to Memorial Falls.  Pictures here:  Kings Hill Scenic Byway 

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