BIG HORN, W.Y.- Visiting the Brinton Museum’s website, their mission statement reads, “The Brinton Museum is a multi-faceted institution that connects the past, present, and future of the American West through its historic Quarter Circle A Ranch, Fine Art, and American Indian Art Collections.”
Barbara McNab, Curator of Exhibitions, explains more, “Well, this is a magnificent building. And it’s also a wonderful institution of property and land. It’s the whole package and it’s very unique. The British Museum is located in Big Horn, Wyoming, which is beautiful, set in the foothills against the majestic Big Horn Mountains. We have the original historic ranch house here on the property that people can go through, as well as some outbuildings, historic to the property, as well.” There is also The Forest de Mars Junior Building which is a 24,000 square foot state-of-the-art facility, which houses both Western and American Indian art, as well as, other fine art.
The property has a long history.
McNab describes, “It was homesteaded early, purchased by William Moncrieff, who was a Scotsman in 1892, who actually established the Quarter Circle A brand. And then along came Bradford Briton in 1923, and he purchased what was then, at that time, the remaining property, the 640 acre headquarters of the quarter circle A. And this was not his permanent residence. This was his vacation home. He would spend the summers here, greatly enjoyed it. And at that time, then, it was a gentleman’s working ranch. And Bradford collected fine art. He was interested in American art, American Indian art, Western art. So that’s the nucleus, the core of the collection that we have. And he unfortunately died in 1936 at the early age of 55. And so the property was left to his sister, Helen, who established the Bradford Briton Memorial.”
It was Helen’s and Bradford’s wish that the property, the land, and the art would remain intact to be shared with the public. Reincorporating as the Brinton Museum, McNab says that they have greatly expanded. They have a world class collection of Western and American Indian Art that tourists, travelers, and the public should not miss seeing.
McNab says, “You are going into a different world. And when you take that drive down Briton Road and you get here on the museum property and you’ve got those beautiful cottonwoods lining the lane, it takes you back in time. And I think that is one of the things that makes this museum particularly unique is that we’re not just a museum with a building. We have the land, we have 640 acres here. We are designated as an important bird area, IBA by Audubon. So we do birding programs on the property, preservation work, its biodiversity.”
The Brinton Museum is open Thursday through Monday. Beginning Memorial Day, they will be open daily, seven days a week. Thanks to the generosity of First Interstate Bank, there is no admission fee. The support from the community is critical to any institution.
McNab encourages you to come check out the museum. “I should also encourage visitors to partake in our Britain Bistro, which is open for lunches, and it’s a fabulous menu. We also have a wonderful museum store, so save time on your visit here to browse through the museum store and shop.”
For more information, visit Briton Museum’s website here.