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Resounds: Elizabeth Guheen

Elizabeth Guheen at the YPR studios
Anna Paige
Elizabeth Guheen at the YPR studios

Elizabeth Guheen is chief curator and director of the Bair Family Museum in Martinsdale, Montana. The museum, which displays the collection and private residence of the Charles M. Bair family, is not in the business of acquiring art, yet they recently procured a painting by Joseph Henry Sharp titled The Young Chief that tells a very big story.

“I hope that perhaps we can set precedence for others to step up maybe try to get individual pieces that mean things to certain museums and certain communities and try to keep this work in the state,” Elizabeth told Yellowstone Public Radio.

The Young Chief painting from 1906 is returning home after more than 100 years since Charles Bair gifted the painting to the Billings Chamber of Commerce in 1914. The painting came to the Bair Family Museum in a dramatic twist after chamber leadership decided to sell it during the annual Coeur d'Alene Art Auction in Reno. The museum, following a lead from a letter drafted by Alberta Bair in the 1960s, went to bat to keep the painting in the state.

The mission of The Charles M. Bair Family Museum is to perpetuate the historic and artistic significance of the Bair family legacy through scholarly, educational, and historic exhibits and programs. The museum focuses on the history and art collections of the Bair family and the family’s impact and place in the fabric of Montana and the West. The return of the painting aptly mirrors the mission of the museum.

Anna Paige is a Montana-based journalist, poet and educator. She is originally from Wyoming and has lived in Billings for more than a decade, where she co-founded Young Poets, winner of the 2021 Library of Congress Award for Literacy.
Corby Skinner is an independent marketing professional with an enormous capacity for assessing issues and creating positive, effective messages.