Eiteljorg Musuem Blog

Adams bequest continues to enhance richness of museum exhibitions

by Bryan Corbin, editor of Storyteller magazine | May 01, 2017

This article originally appeared in the February 2017 issue of Storyteller magazine.

During the three-month special exhibition Titan of the West: The Adams Collection of Western and Native American Art, thousands of Eiteljorg visitors were amazed by the Western paintings and Native objects that Houston busi­nessman Kenneth S. “Bud” Adams bequeathed to the museum in his will. The depth and breadth of the Adams bequest continues to enrich the museum’s exhibits and will inspire visitors for many years to come.


Frank Tenney Johnson (American, 1874-1939)
On the Camarillo Rancho, 1938
Oil on canvas
Bequest of Kenneth S. “Bud” and Nancy Adams

In 2013 the museum inherited from Adams approximately 400 objects, including paintings, pottery, beadwork, weavings and other cultural items, the highlights of which were on public display during Titan of the West. Though the Adams exhibition closed Feb. 5, many of the works will be exhibited in the museum’s core galleries and elsewhere.

First out of the gate is the Adams collection’s signature painting, the Frederic Remington oil entitled A Buck-jumper, ca. 1893. It will be on loan to the Denver Art Museum and then the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts for The Western: An Epic in Art and Film beginning in May and running through early 2018. A Western action scene filled with movement as the cowboy rider strains to stay atop a bucking horse, the Remington painting is related to the artist’s exploration of the battle between nature and man as expressed in his iconic sculptures. 


Frederic Remington
A Buck-jumper, ca. 1893
Oil on canvas
Bequest of Kenneth S. "Bud" and Nancy Adams

All of the other paintings from the Adams collection will stay at the Eiteljorg and many have been incorporated into the Western galleries. Some of the works are being con­served through a project made possible in part by a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

This is prelude to an even bigger change: By November 2018, the Western art galleries will be completely reinstalled, embracing the best of our collection from Harrison Eiteljorg, George Gund, Bud Adams and other donors to offer the public a much more exciting view of the Art of the West. 

Among the many Adams collection works scheduled to go on exhibit are paintings by Frank Tenney Johnson, Charles Schreyvogel, William R. Leigh, Thomas Moran, Albert Bierstadt, Joseph Sharp and more. These striking paintings will complement other works exhibited in the Western galleries and will help visitors appreciate the increasing scope and quality of the museum’s collection as a whole. The Bud and Nancy Adams collection will have a continuing impact on Eiteljorg exhibitions; notably the Native American objects in the Adams gift will be incorporated into plans for changing the second-floor exhibits.


Joseph Henry Sharp (American, 1859–1953)
Shelling Corn—Taos, 1937–1938
Oil on canvas
Bequest of Kenneth S. "Bud" and Nancy Adams

An enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation, Bud Adams grew up in Oklahoma, attended Culver Military Academy, became a wealthy business executive in the Texas oil in­dustry and shaped professional football as a founder of the American Football League and owner of the NFL Tennessee Titans. An avid collector in his later years and proud of his Cherokee heritage, Bud Adams had an eye for paintings reflecting iconic Western scenes as well as Plains Indian art, while his wife Nancy Adams was particularly fond of landscapes of the West. 

After Bud Adams’ death in 2013 at age 90, his unannounced bequest of his entire collection to the Eiteljorg came as a thunderbolt of good fortune to the museum. As the Eiteljorg gears up to redo its Western galleries in 2018 and Native American galleries by 2021, the Adams collection will play a significant role in the transformation of these exhibitions.

When visitors streamed through the Titan of the West exhibition from Nov. 12 to Feb. 5, their sudden appreciation for the Adams’ generosity was reflected in their comments and long lingering pauses to gaze at paintings and objects, at times with unspoken awe. If you have not yet seen the Adams works, then look for several of them in the Western galleries, and see the Titan of the West book available in the museum store. And if you enjoyed the Titan of the West exhibition, visit the Eiteljorg again to get reacquainted with a few of these remarkable works.


Thomas Moran (American, born in England, 1837-1926)
The Grand Canyon, 1917
Oil on canvas
Bequest of Kenneth S. "Bud" and Nancy Adams

Note: The views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

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