15,000-square-foot Tahoe exhibit opens at Nevada Museum of Art
RENO, Nev. — The first major historical art survey of Lake Tahoe and Donner Pass takes an ambitious trip through two centuries, highlighting the roles of Native Americans and railroad barons and the tourists and scientists trying to halt the loss of clarity in the azure waters.
“Tahoe: A Visual History” opened last weekend at the Nevada Museum of Art, marking the culmination of a five-year endeavor to create an exhibit that features more than 400 objects by 175 painters, photographers, architects, basket weavers and sculptors.
Arranged chronologically for the most part, it combines culturally and historically significant creations with contemporary works.
“America’s most iconic landscapes, places like Yosemite, Niagara Falls, and Yellowstone, have been studied by art historians and scholars extensively, but as far as art history goes, this Tahoe-Donner region has been unrecognized,” Ann M. Wolfe, the museum’s senior curator/deputy director, told the Associated Press.
“So much art has been made about this great historical narrative of the Sierra being this boundary to American progress in the 19th century — the trials of the Donner Party followed by the success of the Transcontinental Railroad as a symbol of progress,” she added. “But it’s never really been brought together.”
The exhibit takes up a whopping 15,000-square feet of the museum’s gallery space, according to the Nevada Museum of Art.
Through Jan. 10, the exhibit will showcase the works of Ansel Adams, Albert Bierstadt and Frank Lloyd Wright. It also includes the largest collection of Washoe Indian baskets ever displayed in one place, many by Louisa Keyser, known as “Datsolalee.”
Visitors also can follow maps and journals of western explorers, including John C. Fremont and John Muir. The path tracks the arrival of the Transcontinental Railroad in the 1860s and the ensuing logging and mining boom, the shift from timber to tourism and the rise of the resorts in the early 20th century. The section also touches on Chinese laborers, many who died while laying the rails.
And, as expected for any sort of historical account of the Sierra-Tahoe region, the exhibit also covers Donner Pass, which gets its name from a disastrous journey that left settlers stranded, resulted in dozens of death and prompted some to resort to cannibalism in the winter of 1846-47.
The Nevada Museum of Art is located at 160 W. Liberty St. in Reno. Visit http://www.nevadaart.org to learn more.