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Published October 12, 2021
After a yearlong renovation project, the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center’s (AHC) loggia and galleries are now open to the public with an exhibition of paintings by Osage-born artist Dave Paulley.
Paulley (1931-2020) painted 30 images of Wyoming history, culture and industry to celebrate the state’s centennial in 1990. Commissioned by the Wyoming State Historical Society, the exhibition’s 18 selected works range from the earliest days of human habitation -- paleo-Indian petroglyphs at Whoop Up Canyon in Weston County -- to the present day with George Hopkins’ parachute descent on top of Devils Tower.
Other paintings feature wagon trains, the transcontinental railroad, Bridger’s Ferry, Father Pierre-Jean De Smet, John Colter, Fossil Butte, as well as early oil wells and coal mines.
“The Toppan Library is now the open public area envisioned by donor Clara Toppan,” says Professor Paul Flesher, the AHC director. “I thank the many staff members who helped in the work, from those who moved books into the book vault, to those who advised on design, to those who worked with the numerous contractors and construction workers and made this vision a reality.”
The AHC’s loggia display space is now accompanied by two renovated galleries. During the AHC’s COVID-19 closure, the Toppan Library fire suppression system was upgraded to archival standards, and the space was divided into two separate areas.
Gallery One features the AHC’s collection of paintings by Alfred Jacob Miller, the first white artist to paint the interior of the Rocky Mountains. Miller journeyed to the Rocky Mountain Rendezvous in 1837 with the Scottish noble Sir William Drummond Stewart, who commissioned him to paint the rendezvous and other mountain scenes near present-day Pinedale.
The gallery stands opposite the AHC’s Rentschler Room gallery, which features paintings on Western themes by Henry Farny and Frederic Remington. Other paintings on display in the galleries include Buffalo Bill Cody at Old Faithful and Portugee Phillips’ arrival at Fort Laramie on Christmas in 1866.
After renovation, the Toppan Library Room has become a bright, open teaching and exhibition space, Flesher says. Classes are being taught there this semester.
“Several professors have observed how the new room provides more space for examination of the books and increased conversations among students about the works on display,” Toppan Librarian Mary Beth Brown says.
The teaching area shares space with a rotating series of exhibitions under the theme of “Treasures of the Toppan,” now under development.
The AHC’s loggia and gallery spaces are open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Friday, with a Wednesday lunchtime closure at noon.
For more information, call the AHC at (307) 766-3756.