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University of Wyoming Foundation

Donor Stories

Western Art Draws People Together

Western Art

People are drawn to the American West, and the West draws people together.

In 1881, painter Henry Farney came West to the Dakota Territory to visit the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation. What became of that trip and others was a lifelong passion for painting Native American subjects.

In the middle of the last century, industrialist George Rentschler of Ohio spent many hunting seasons in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin. He had a passion for western subjects and collected the paintings of Henry Farney and hung them in his library.

In the mid-1950s, George’s son Fred spent a high school summer doing work on a ranch near Encampment. He loved it so much, later in life he and his wife Pam bought a ranch in the Madison Valley of Montana.

In 1957, Gene Gressley was Director of the University of Wyoming American Heritage Center, which collects archival material of the American West. Gene heard of the Rentschlers’ western art collection and contacted the Rentschler family.

And then, thanks to the generosity of the Rentschler family, that exquisitely beautiful library from Fairfield, Ohio—with priceless its western artwork—itself moved out West in 1980, complete with raised ceiling, rug and curtains, and wood paneling.  It was located first in the W.R. Coe Library and then, upon its completion in 1993, in the Centennial Complex.

The George A. Rentschler Room at the American Heritage Center features nine paintings by Henry Farney, as well as one by Frederic Remington. Last year, four more Farneys were gifted to the AHC, thanks to Fred and Pam Rentschler. The Rentschler Room artwork, along with that in the Alfred Jacob Miller Classroom, constitutes the University of Wyoming Collection of Western Art.

“This completion of the gift of Fred Rentschler, through the generosity of Pamela Rentschler, puts the finishing touches on what is easily the most impressive room at UW,” say Mark Greene, Director of the American Heritage Center. “The George Rentschler Room contains a remarkable collection of Farney and Remington paintings, as well as a re-creation of Mr. Rentschler’s New York study. The entire Rentschler family have been remarkable benefactors to the university and to the American Heritage Center.”

Thanks to the generosity of one family and their passion for the West that the University of Wyoming is able to display such iconic images.

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