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Come See America's Story at Booth Western Art Museum

By Jake Levin

Booth Western Art Museum is a special place, but don't take Tom Shinall's word for it.

National and regional honors have been bestowed upon the Cartersville, Ga. museum, which focuses on Western American art from the 19th Century expansion and onward. Shinall, who is the Director of Marketing for the museum, said that at Booth Western Art Museum, a world-class experience awaits.

"Not to be confused with the successive periods and art movements from Western Europe, Western American art began with the 19th century Westward Expansion movement and continues to grow and thrive today," Shinall said. "Following the Louisiana Purchase, artists (and eventually photographers) from the eastern United States would head west, embarking on expeditions to document the land, the people, the struggles, the dreams, and the legends."

Founded in August 2003 by a local family that's chosen to remain anonymous, Shinall pointed out that the namesake of the museum is actually Sam Booth, who is a friend and mentor to the founders.

Artists such as Frederic Remington, Charles Russell and George Catlin are showcased at the booth for their early works of art in the American West, but many contemporary artists from the 20th and 21st centuries also have their works featured at the Booth. Shinall said that with so many of the contemporary artists still living, visitors can come to the Booth and see these artists for lectures, workshops, demonstrations, symposiums, exhibitions and programming.

Given that the Booth is the only western art museum in the southeastern United States, this makes it a truly unique location, Shinall said.

There are also two galleries at the Booth that have nothing to do with western art: The Civil War showcase and Presidential gallery. This includes the Carolyn & James Millar Presidential Gallery, which is hands down the most popular gallery that catches visitors by surprise.

"Since the birth of our nation, 44 men have been selected to serve as President of the United States," Shinall said as he explained the gallery, which has in it a one-page signed letter from each president. "While their names have been memorized and their accomplishments recited for years, we often forget that these men had the same hopes, fears, loves, dreams and passions that we all share. Much of our knowledge of these remarkable leaders can be found in letters they sent to their opponents, acquaintances and family members. In these letters, we obtain a glimpse of American history from a truly unique perspective. We are able to see these men as they were."

Annual events, lectures and exhibition openings highlight the Booth, such as the Southeastern Cowboy Gathering. This event features the traditional American cowboy through art, food, music and poetry and is where the largest chuck wagon gathering east of the Mississippi River takes place.

"The teams are encouraged to interact with attendees and educate the public on the importance of the chuck wagon during the cattle drives of the 1800s," Shinall said. "Lunch from the chuck wagons is served at High Noon. Each October, the Southeastern Cowboy Festival & Symposium is the largest western themed event in the South. This four-day event features Native American dancing, gun fight re-enactments, art history lectures, a Western marketplace and much more."

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