DU Alumni / Magazine Feature / People

Art aficionado focuses on western art

When Peter Hassrick arrived on campus in the 1960s to study 19th- and early 20th-century western American art, he was treading new ground.

“At that time, no one was particularly interested in western American art, but DU allowed me to tailor my studies,” says Hassrick, MA art history ’69.

Because this genre was still considered new, Hassrick wanted to raise its profile nationally. “I wanted to get beyond the cowboy and Indian iconography and look at its artistic significance,” Hassrick says.

His specialized course work positioned him well in the art world and led to positions as director of the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe, N.M.; director of the Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Wyoming; and curator of collections at the Amon Carter Museum in Ft. Worth, Texas. Over the years, Hassrick also has published numerous academic articles and 12 books and taught and lectured for the public and at the university level.

With a full career behind him, Hassrick happily retired in 2001 to focus on writing. But in May 2005, a position opened up at the Denver Art Museum, and Hassrick couldn’t say no.

He was hired as director of the Institute of Western American Art, where he is helping make the transition into a new museum building and helping the museum position itself nationally.

“I really enjoy getting to research, lecture and teach, and I have a profound affection for the Denver Art Museum,” says Hassrick, noting that his father worked there as the curator of the American Indian collection. “I’m here for a while.”

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