A Couple of Art Lovers Part 2: The Generosity of Miriam Sample

11.16.2023 – 08.18.2024

Please note: The Generosity of Miriam Sample has reopened after being temporarily closed during Art Auction 56.


exhibition sponsors

Lead Sponsors
Linda Shelhamer & Stephen Haraden

Premium Sponsors
Diane Boyer Jerhoff
Patricia & John Burg

Supporting Sponsors
Lornel Baker
Bess Lovec
Gareld Krieg
Kim & Don Olsen

Gordon McConnell & Betty Loos

Mildred Sandall Scott Galleries

November 16, 2023 – August 18, 2024

On November 16, 2023, the museum opened the second exhibition of a two-part celebration honoring artwork gifted to the Yellowstone Art Museum by Joe and Miriam Sample.

With a shared enthusiasm for art and civic-minded engagement, the husband and wife duo was unstoppable. One might imagine they had a pact to divide and conquer — Miriam, a supporter of the symphony and theater among other non-profit organizations, also served on the Montana Arts Council and Board of the Yellowstone Art Museum. Joe, a legend in Montana’s media landscape and jazz aficionado, shared his passion for the arts through his long-running program on Yellowstone Public Radio, Spreadin’ Rhythm Around, and was also an avid art collector.

For over sixty years, Miriam and Joe bestowed the Yellowstone Art Museum with their philanthropic spirit and love for the arts. Beginning in 1984 with the acquisition of a vase by Rudy Autio, Miriam continued to gift funds to the museum to purchase artworks from Montana’s leading artists. At the time of her death in 2009, two hundred and twenty-four works had been purchased for the collection. Along with grants from the Montana Cultural Trust, the core of the museum’s collection was formed — one which guides our collecting criteria to this day.

The YAM is thrilled to announce that forty-five works from Joe Sample’s private art collection have recently come into the YAM’s collection through a generous bequest from the Sample Foundation. Joe’s passion for collecting early nineteenth-century artwork by leading artists encompasses subjects of westward expansion, Plains Indian portraits and life, cowboys, and the vast western landscape. Leading artists of the genre like Joseph Henry Sharp [1859 – 1953], Thomas Moran [1837 – 1926], Charles Marion Russell [1864 – 1926], and Olaf Carl Seltzer [1877 – 1957], among others, are included in this valued collection.

The acquisition of these works into the YAM’s collection adds depth to our holdings of artwork created in the early modern art period. As touchstones of traditional Western art, the collection also provides representations of the West to which contemporary artists continue to respond as interpretations of Western art continue to evolve and our perspectives are broadened.