Wednesday, November 04, 2015

High Desert Museum

by Mary E. Trimble
Photos by Roni McFadden 

One of our WWW Conference Friday morning tours was to the High Desert Museum in Bend, an excellent all-encompassing museum with many outstanding exhibits.

A temporary exhibit while we were there was “Tough by Nature: Portraits of Cowgirls and Ranch Women of the American West” which showcased Artist Lynda Lanker. Lanker’s heart-felt exhibit features charcoal and graphite drawings as well as stone and plate lithographs, acrylics, oil pastels, and egg tempera. These pictures honor the spirit and stories of ranch women and cowgirls who earn their sustenance and livelihood from the land.

From the Tough by Nature: Portraits of Cowgirls and Ranch Women of the American West

Artist: Lynda Lanker, Portrait of Jan Youren

Another temporary exhibit features the work of Edward S. Curtis who spent 30 years beginning in the late 1800s creating a photo-ethnographic study of the North American Indian. Curtis’ collection is widely considered the finest limited edition books ever made in the U.S. The High Desert Museum holds the complete set of the 20 bound volumes of The North American Indian.

The museum has several permanent exhibits. “Spirit of the West” is ever popular and starts with a stroll past a Northern Paiute shelter and a French trapper’s camp. The details depicted are in incredible detail with the sights and sounds of an Indian camp, a settler’s cabin, a hard rock mine, and into Idaho’s old Silver City.

“By Hand Through Memory,” another permanent exhibit, takes visitors through the Plateau Indian Nations’ journey as they traveled from reservation confinement to the 21st Century. Their struggle to retain cultural identity is both poignant and moving.

From High Desert Museum

Indian Head Dresses

The High Desert Museum gives visitors a chance to see close-up in both indoor and outdoor displays of live owls, hawks, eagles, falcons, a Canadian lynx and bobcat. None of the animals cared for at the Museum can be released to the wild, either because of injuries or because, separated from their mothers, they never learned to hunt or avoid predators.

Another enlightening permanent exhibit is the Miller Family Ranch where visitors can meet the characters and watch as they do chores (be careful, or you’ll get roped into lending a hand).

As visitors walk around inside the different sections of the building, the outside is brought in by spacious windows looking out on meandering streams in woodsy settings.

The famous Henry James Monk stagecoach, a sawmill, ranger station, a nature walk–it’s all there. If you’re in the Bend, Oregon area, don’t miss this very special museum.

What an interesting and fun tour! Thanks to the planning committee for this excellent choice.
Mary E. Trimble writes memoir, mainstream and coming-of-age novels with contemporary western settings. Her recent books include Tubob:Two Years in West Africa with the Peace Corps, and Sailing With Impunity.


Arletta Dawdy said...

Mary, this is a perfect essay, capturing our tour...and things I missed. I agree that the committee is to be commended for its choice and the timing of our visit. The Friday morning tours at our conferences are often wonderful but this one struck me as very, very special.

Anne Schroeder Author said...

You captured the essence of the museum in your blog. I was so fortunate to be there and see the displays, walk-through exhibits and art. Thank you for this.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for reminding us about this--it was a great visit with not quite enough time and I, for one, will look forward to returning one day.

Karen Casey Fitzjerrell said...

Thanks for the post Mary. Wish - oh how I wish, I'd been able to make the conference this year. Rest assured, I'll be there next year! kcf

Unknown said...

Thank you for your re-cap. I was unable to see so much do to time restraints, but thank you for sharing a wide angle view of the museum with us.

Alice Trego said...

Great post about the High Desert Museum, Mary. There truly were some wonderful exhibits to see, especially our sneek peek at Lynda Lanker's art work of cowgirls and ranch women. I walked around that exhibit twice!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the post, Mary, and the photos, Roni. I had to cancel my trip to the conference due to illness, so I really appreciate this post. The museum sounds impressive.

Heidiwriter said...

I especially loved the cowgirls exhibit, since I have such respect for those old-time (and modern) cowgirls and ranch women! It was quite moving.

Julie said...

Thanks for reminding us of this wonderful tour, Mary. I obviously missed some of what you saw, but I enjoyed all I did see. This was the 2nd or 3rd time I have been to the Museum, and each time I realize it is the best of the best. That mine tunnel might have been taken from a real mine, it was so realistic! All the Indian scenes felt as if we could step right in and converse and learn.

Terri Sedmak said...

Thanks for this post, Mary. Indeed, the museum was so good, so worthy of hours and hours of exploring, that my partner in crime and I were late back on the bus. My apologies for holding up the group. The Tough by Nature exhibition was a wonderful highlight and being permitted to view it before its official opening was very special.