The Montana Historical Society is loaning 20 Charles M. Russell paintings to the CM Russell Museum in Great Falls as the Helena museum is undergoing extensive renovations, officials said Friday.
They said this loan is part of an ongoing collaboration between the two entities.
“It just makes sense to loan these paintings to the CM Russell Museum so the public can enjoy them while we make improvements to our current facility,” MTHS Director Molly Kruckenberg said in a news release.
He noted that the 66,000-square-foot addition to the Montana Heritage Center will allow the Helena museum to nearly triple the size of its current Russell Gallery when it reopens in 2025.
The loan includes some of Russell’s most iconic paintings, including “Laugh Kills Lonesome,” a 1925 oil on canvas; “York,” a 1908 watercolor; and “Caught in the Act,” an oil on canvas from 1888.
The new exhibit at the Russell Museum will open on March 17.
They will join some of the 1,000 Russell creations owned by the CM Russell Museum, a non-profit organization that owns one of the largest Russell collections in the world.
“Charlie would have deeply appreciated this collaboration between friends, the CM Russell Museum and the Montana Historical Society,” CM Russell Museum executive director Tom Figarelle said in the statement.
He said this art, displayed with those already in Russell’s permanent and loaned collection, will be the largest single Russell Masterworks anywhere.
“We are proud of this, but we are particularly excited to be advancing our relationship with MTHS during their transformative project,” Figarelle said.
Russell, who died in 1926 and spent his adulthood in Montana with a home in Great Falls, captured the spirit of the American West through his work that includes oil paintings, watercolors, sculpture, and writing. Known internationally as the “original cowboy artist,” his work celebrates indigenous culture, large landscapes, and wildlife scenes.
The CM Russell Museum, 400 13th St. N. in Great Falls, is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday through April 30 and then changes to 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Sunday until September 30.