The R.W. Norton Art Gallery houses an exceptional collection of art spanning more than four millennia. Since its opening in 1966, the museum has become particularly well-known around the country for its impressive collections of works by those titans of western art, Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. The R.W. Norton Art Gallery is a teaching museum that uses the art to encourage community participation in thoughtful interpretations and discussions.
In the early 1920's, Richard W. Norton (1886-1940) became one of the discoverers of the Rodessa Oil Field in north Louisiana. Over time, Mr. Norton's wife and son began to amass a significant collection of fine art. In 1946, to honor Mr. Norton and for the benefit of the community, Richard W. Norton, Jr. (1919-1974) and his mother, Mrs. Richard W. Norton (1886-1975) created the R.W. Norton Art Foundation. In turn, the Foundation eventually established the R.W. Norton Art Gallery, basing its initial collection upon donations from the acquisitions of the Nortons. Today, due to the on-going efforts of the Board of Control and the Foundation's work, the R.W. Norton Art Gallery's offerings continue to expand, grow, and contribute to their community.
Bierstadt witnessed the beginning of the destruction of his beloved landscape, especially after the popularity of Church’s painting of Niagara Falls. Early in the 19th century, most people considered Niagara Falls to be "the nation's most magnificent natural spectacle." But that spectacle was desecrated as developers harnessed the falls for power, cut the timber that surrounded them, and turned the best scenic overlooks into curio stands selling cheap souvenirs. According to historian Alfred Runte, the national shame felt about Niagara spurred people into action. When Albert Bierstadt presented to America his images of Yosemite Valley, people insisted that the area be protected from Niagara's fate. Instead of allowing the valley to be subdivided by settlers, Congress in 1864 gave Yosemite to the state of California, to be held "inalienable" for all time. A few years later, Thomas Moran's paintings and William Henry Jackson's photos revealed that Yellowstone was even more spectacular than Yosemite, and the National Park System was established.
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