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What Is the Amon Carter Museum?

By John Markley
Updated May 17, 2024
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The Amon Carter Museum, or more formally the Amon Carter Museum of American Art, is an art museum established in Fort Worth, Texas in 1961. It was created through a legacy in the will of Texan publisher Amon G. Carter and is named in his honor. The Amon Carter Museum now houses a large collection of American paintings, illustrations, and sculptures as well as one of the most prestigious collections of American photography in the country.

It contains more than 6,000 paintings, sculptures, and drawings in numerous styles by American artists from across American history. The museum houses works by many important American artists, such as painters Georgia O'Keefe and Thomas Cole and sculptor Paul Manship. It also has a collection of many other items from the past two centuries, such as prints, lithographs, and illustrated books.

The Amon Carter museum also houses an extremely large photography collection containing more than 40,000 photographic prints and several hundred thousand photo negatives and transparencies. These include thousands of pictures by Eliot Porter, one of the pioneers of color photography, as well as photos by other prominent American photographers, such as Ansel Adams and Alfred Stieglitz. The collection spans the history of American photography, containing photographs dating as far back as the 1840s.

The building itself was originally quite small, but has undergone several additions to its original construction as the museum's collection has grown and is now several times its original size, covering more than 100,000 square feet (9,290 square meters). In addition to its exhibits, the Amon Carter Museum also contains a research library dedicated to American art history and the history of the American West, a bookstore, and storage facilities for art not currently on exhibition. There are also training facilities for educators to learn about teaching art to their students and a resource library of educational materials for schools, colleges, and home schoolers.

The museum was originally conceived by Amon G. Carter. Carter was the owner of the popular Fort Worth Star-Telegram newspaper, which had the highest circulation of any newspaper in the southern United States for several decades in the first half of the 20th century, and an outspoken and widely known civic booster and popularizer of his home state of Texas, especially Fort Worth. Upon his death in 1955, his will contained a stipulation for the construction of an art museum in Fort Worth that would house his own art collection and be dedicated to American art more generally. The museum's collection began with several hundred paintings and sculptures by Charles Marion Russell and Frederick Remington, two artists who had specialized in images of the American Old West, left to the museum by Carter himself.

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