Since the museum is close to the center of Cozad, it's worthwhile taking a short walk along 8th Street and Main Street. There are numerous antique stores and a decent soup and sandwich cafe. The newer side of town is across the railroad tracks closer to I-80. Most of the older architecture downtown is from the early 20th century. There's an art club mural on one old brick wall.
There are some clothes and other items that belong to Henri's mother or relatives who have donated them to the museum. There's also a few miscellaneous collections of pipes and political buttons donated to the museum by local towns folk.
Henri amused himself and others with comic sketches. Sometimes these are mere doodles through which he amused himself during his travels. The museum has a very fine collection of original sketches and limited edition prints, and this collection is growing as the museum improves its endowment.
Margery Austin Ryerson, last surviving art student of Robert Henri, contributed this excellent original oil painting to the museum. The portrait is a fine example of the style that Henri inspired in his students.
Henri was a late impressionist, and founding member of the Ashcan School, which, if I understand it correctly, emphasize an authentic journalistic style of portrait painting. In contrast to earlier client portraiture, Henri's subjects were very often children, domestic workers, and others he choose from ordinary life. Even lower class subjects are portrayed as having pride, colorful clothing, and direct eye contact with the viewer, the owner of the painting, who more often than not was among the wealthy elite.
Henri also painted street scenes of the places he visited during his many trips to Europe.
There are several very well done prints that were created by contributors to the museum.
Any Robert Henri painting will easily auction for six figures, so this tiny museum has neither the security, safe climate display, nor endowment for more than a few paintings and sketches. There is one significant Henri oil painting portrait which is displayed on the second floor. Queen Marianna, second wife of King Philip IV of Spain, is basically a tribute to Valasquez mural sized portraits. Henri visited the Prado, and as a result of this experience produced this work. However, this is mere Valasquez imitation. Close examination of the queen's hand reveals Henri's heavy impressionist brush strokes.
The original Cozad home has been structurally restored and given a coat of stucco to preserve it. Inside, antique furniture decorate, some authentic Cozad family, much of it only period pieces. The rambling house includes many small rooms that served as temporary living quarters for men who were homesteading property lots distributed by John Cozad. The plan was that men would stay there while they built a home and started farming, then after their home was complete and crops brought in, men would pay off what they owed Cozad, then fetch their families from back east. Early sketches and some prints displayed the museum reveal well Henri's early life experiences.
It's a good idea to call ahead and let them know you are coming. If you just show up and the museum is closed, try calling the website contact number and see if the museum director will come and unlock the door. There are special event art exhibits during summer months.
The collection of images I have here is but a small number of the many sketches that the museum as on display and on file. One could spent hours browsing the sketches.
JUST LOOK AROUND AND GET A FEEL FOR THE TOWN. It is a nice town. Here is a small photo sampler of some buildings we saw around town.
Here is the Cozad Movie Theater. On November 7th, 2005, we could have seen Walt Disney's "Chicken Little."