DENVER - There's a "backstory" behind every piece of artwork, and every historical artifact. History Colorado and the Denver Art Museum are trying to showcase that in a brand new exhibit that opens on Saturday.
The exhibit -- a rare one, considering two museums are working together -- has a bunch of Western American Art, and gives each piece a bit more context. The exhibition tells a chronological history of the American West.
These are nine of the coolest pieces we found when we went to check it out.
And if you want to see the exhibit yourself, you'll find Backstory: Western American Art in Context at History Colorado.
1. This compass...
...used to plot out where city streets would go in Denver back in the early 1860s, when Native Americans were living in the same place.
2. These paper advertisements...
...teasing free land and free homes in Colorado, from 1890, in an offer to lure people here. How things change in 127 years... Another ad, from 1864, is for "Indian fighters." You were promised whatever land you took from Native Americans. Both of these signs were published at the same time that compass was being used to map out Denver.
3. This telescope belonging to Lewis and Clark...
...circa 1800. The label introduces it: "Meriwether Lewis and William Clark got their first look at the West through the lens of this telescope." It's on loan from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.
4. This saddle...
Antonio Cipriano Gutierrez and his family used this saddle for generations on their cattle and sheep ranches in New Mexico and southern Colorado. The family is credited with giving Trinidad, Colorado, its name. The saddle features tapaderos, a protective covering of the rider’s foot common on vaquero, or Spanish cowboy, saddles. Note the many repairs, including a seat repair made using part of a cowboy boot.
5. These Stetson hats...
John B. Stetson introduced the first western-style hat in 1865. One of the hats in the exhibition belonged to Colorado Governor Dan Thornton.
6. This ad showing people how cool Colorado is
The exhibit curators tell us this photo was staged around the time of the gold rush to make Colorado life look more awesome.
7. This cowboy jacket with a retro vibe
It's a Rockmount shirt. Jack Weil founded the Denver-based company, still in business today. Rockmount is known for their western-style shirts and button snaps.
8. These Civil War coats...
...that remind us the fight we had with our uncle on Facebook yesterday wasn't the lowest point in American history. These coats of both Confederate and Union soldiers, both from 1864-5. They are made of wool and have brass buttons.
9. This painting that is sooo Colorado
It's called Estes Park, Long's Peak. The artist, Albert Bierstadt, painted an exaggerated scene with higher mountain tops, stormy clouds and a lake that isn't really there, the curators said.
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