Charles Bird King, Hayne-Hudjihini, Eagle of Delight, 1836, hand colored lithograph, Photo: E.G. Schempf.
Throughout the 19th century as Americans pushed west toward the Pacific, they were fascinated by westward expansion in North America. Printed imagery—lithographs and engravings—played an important role in the dissemination of knowledge and understanding about the West and its inhabitants. Now visitors to The Museum Broken Arrow’s new exhibition, Imprinting the West: Manifest Destiny, Real and Imagined, which opened June 16, will see 48 hand-colored engravings and lithographs that explore these depictions and the influence the artists had on the perception of the wild west. The exhibit runs through August 11.
In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson purchased the expansive territory, known as Louisiana, from Napoleon, King of France. This transaction extended the young country’s boundaries by 828,000 square miles, including all of present-day Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma, and parts of Colorado, Louisiana, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, South Dakota, Texas, and Wyoming. The Louisiana Purchase set the stage for exploration, migration and settlement, in addition to struggle and conflict. Convinced that God wanted the country to extend to the Pacific Coast—the idea called “Manifest Destiny”—scores of Americans, including painters and printmakers, moved west.
The westward expansion in the 19th century was closely intertwined with the experiences of the native peoples. The exhibition’s artists, including George Catlin and Frederic Remington, sought to document the indigenous people of west along with migration to the west. Artists often accompanied governmental geographical surveys and created images to illustrate official publications. Others sold engravings to popular periodicals, such as Harper’s Weekly, or to the mass market. Whether real or imagined, these lithographs and engravings informed the rest of America and the world about Native Americans and America’s western landscapes and its natural resources.
Local sponsors for this exhibit are Harmon Insurance, First National Bank & Trust Company of Broken Arrow, and Dr. and Mrs. Roy L. Wood. The Museum Broken Arrow is located at 400 S. Main St. in Broken Arrow, and is open Tuesday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4:00p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.to 2 p.m. It is closed Sunday and Monday. Admission is $5/adult; children under age 18 free.
Imprinting the West: Manifest Destiny, Real and Imagined will be available for viewing during regular museum hours. School, clubs or organizations with plans to view the exhibit as a group are encouraged to make reservations. Call 918-258-2616 for more information.
Imprinting the West: Manifest Destiny, Real and Imagined is toured by ExhibitsUSA, a national program of Mid-America Arts Alliance, and curated by Dr. Randall Griffey, associate curator of modern American art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. ExhibitsUSA sends more than 25 exhibitions on tour to more than 100 small- and mid-sized communities every year. Based in Kansas City, Missouri, Mid-America is the oldest nonprofit regional arts organization in the United States. More information is available at www.maaa.org and www.eusa.org.