Press Release: April 4, 2011
Immediate Release: April 4, 2011
Contact: Elizabeth M. Guheen
Director and Chief Curator, Charles M. Bair Family Museum
New Bair Museum Slated to Opening Memorial Day Weekend
“Construction of the new Charles M. Bair Family Art
Museum is on schedule to open Friday, May 27th 2011,” said Elizabeth Guheen, director
and chief curator. The new state-of-the-art museum is on the grounds of the Bair
Family Home in Martinsdale, Montana.
The mission of The Charles M. Bair Family Museum is to present an educational institution
that focuses on the history and art of the Bair family, the family’s impact and
place in the fabric of Montana and the West, and the many stories that relate to
the broader context of the accomplishments of the Bair family. The new museum space
reflects that mission and will increase visitor access and expand opportunities
to exhibit family treasures that have been stored away and not exhibited in the
past, such as the Bair's original Edward Curtis photographs and impressive collection
of Native American artifacts.
The 7,300 square foot building will feature a variety of gallery spaces as well
as a fire safe, climate-controlled cement storage vault for the artwork during the
winter season, when the Museum is closed. The new art museum sits adjacent to the
original Bair Family home and will house the Bair’s collection of valuable western
artworks, priceless Indian artifacts, and an eclectic collection of American and
Guheen said that Alberta Bair, who lived 17 years past the death of her sister Marguerite
in 1976 and parents Charles in 1943 and Mary in 1950, consulted with several museum
curators about the care for her family's collection. Alberta lived to the age of
97 and passed away in 1993, but not before she has thoughtfully and wisely established
The Charles M Bair Family Trust to help preserve the family legacy. “By providing
the art collection with the best possible museum environment, we are honoring her
desire that the work stay together and on site, but cared for and readily viewable
by the museum's many visitors,” noted Guheen.
Guided tours of Bair Home will complete The Charles M. Bair Family Museum experience,
with fine reproductions of the paintings in place of the originals. All the original
furniture and antiques remain in the home as testament to the family’s passion for
collecting antiques, mostly gathered by the Bair sisters in their travels abroad.
Principal architect for the museum, Kim Olson of O2 Architects in Billings, said
the interior of the new museum is designed to exhibit numerous collections gathered
by family members with diverse interests and tastes. There will be gallery space
for the Bair sister’s European and American contemporary collection, as well as
separate gallery space for Charlie Bair’s western art collection and climate/light
controlled glass display cases for Bair’s Native American artifacts. In addition,
the museum includes a special gallery for revolving exhibits and a vault for storing
pieces during off-season months.
Other features include:
Charles M. Bair made his fortune in the Alaska gold
rush and went on to invest in mining, oil and real estate. Bair was one of the most
successful sheep owners in the world, at one time running over 300,000 head. Among
his friends were humourist Will Rogers, artists Henry Sharp, J. K. Ralston, Charles
Russell, and many U.S. Presidents. Bair was also involved in banking and politics,
although he never ran for office himself. Bair and his wife, Mary, and their two
daughters, Marguerite and Alberta, were one of Montana’s main philanthropic families,
providing funds for student scholarships, hospitals, museums, libraries, mental
health programs, youth organizations, arts, and music.
- motion sensor lighting system that dims when no one is present in a gallery space;
- green building elements to enhance the museum’s indoor environmental quality;
- incorporation of local native stone in both the interior and exterior of the building;
- continuation of the red roofs of the home and barn;
- the Bair daughter’s passion for bold colors will be reflected on the museum interior
- a large spacious foyer provides opportunities for receptions and special events
Because Charles Bair leased land from the Crow Reservation to graze his sheep, he
developed a lasting friendship with Chief Plenty Coups. A child’s beaded vest and
a small toy tipi, gifts from Plenty Coup to the young Alberta, will be prominently
displayed in museum foyer.
When to go: The Charles M. Bair Family Museum will open Memorial
Day Weekend through Labor Day - 7 Days a Week, 10am to 5pm. The Museum will remain
open through October for school tours, as well as the general public, but on a reduced
Costs: Visitors can see the new museum exhibition, tour the home,
and explore the agricultural-related artifacts and photographs in the barn and visit
the Museum Shop all for one ticket price of $5, $3 for seniors.
Directions: Bair Family Museum is located in Martinsdale, Montana
between White Sulphur Springs and Harlowton on Highway 12.
Contact: Elizabeth Guheen
Bair Family Museum
2751 Mt Hwy 294
Martinsdale, MT 59053