The Charles M. Bair Family Trust Board of Advisers announced today that art and artifacts from the Bair family’s collection will be on permanent loan to the Yellowstone Art Museum in Billings. The YAM also plans to begin a fundraising effort to build a new 3,000-foot gallery for the collection.
“The Charles M. Bair Family Trust Board of Advisers believes that the Yellowstone Art Museum is a natural and optimal choice for the exhibition and care of the Bair works,” said Wayne Hirsch, vice chairman of the trust board.
Artworks by Charles M. Russell and Joseph Henry Sharp, as well as photogravures by Edward M. Curtis of the Crow people are on display at the YAM as part of a temporary loan.
Numerous American Indian artifacts collected by the Bair family from the 1800s to the 1900s also are in the collection.
The remainder of the collection will continue to be housed at the Charles M. Bair Family Home in Martinsdale, which reopened to visitors this summer. The home’s future is uncertain as a lawsuit brought against the trustee board over the closure is still before District Judge G. Todd Baugh, whose decision is pending.
The new gallery will be called the Charles M. Bair Family Gallery. Hirsch said the trust and the museum are excited to share the history of the Bair family.
The trust board has promised a $2.15 million grant and endowment for the construction of the gallery once the museum has raised an initial $1 million.
Executive director Robyn Peterson said having the collection at the museum is a benefit to the pubic.
“Yellowstone Art Museum and the Bair family trust have a long and fruitful relationship,” she said. “We are very, very pleased with the confidence the trust has in us.”