The Coutts Memorial Museum of Art is a fine art gallery with over a thousand art objects, including original paintings, sculptures, prints and drawings by such artists as Renoir, Thomas Hart Benton, Frederic Remington and Charles M. Russell. Art works for the museum were purchased mainly by Warren Hall Coutts, Jr.. He traveled extensively and purchased works from art auctions all over the world. The museum houses works from Russia, China, France, Holland, England and South America.
The museum was established in 1970 by Warren Hall Coutts, Jr., an El Dorado attorney, in honor of his son and law partner, Warren Hall “Bud” Coutts III, who died tragically in a plane crash in 1965. In the words of its founder, the museum is to serve as “…a memorial for all time to come commemorating the memory of all of the beloved sons and daughters of this community.”
One delightful aspect of the museum is the atmosphere. Visitors get the feeling of being in a private collector’s home, instead of a museum. Tasteful antique furnishings, some of which belonged to the Coutts family, antique Persian rugs, and artful arrangements set the mood for leisurely, relaxed browsing.
The Coutts Museum has several wonderful examples of the Rococo style. Prized possessions include Empress Josephine by a French painter, and a still life by George Jeannin, Floral Study. Both paintings were purchased by Mr. Coutts in Paris. The collection offers a wide range of contemporary work starting with a wonderful collection of Prairie Printmakers’ works including Seward, Foltz, Capps, Hotvedt, M.B. Hall, A.W. Hall, Thomas Hart Benton, and Birger Sandzen. The gallery is proud to house the largest Makk collection in the United States. Americo and Eva Makk and son, A.B., are a world renowned family of painters whose achievements include numerous international awards, four presidential portrait commissions, and exhibitions in the rotunda of the U.S. Senate and for the Carnegie Endowment. Kansas contemporary artists such as Robert Carver, Charles Sanderson, Frederic James, J.R. Hamil, Charles Rogers, and James Fallier are also well represented.
Of particular interest to many viewers is the Western art section of the gallery, which boasts of the largest collection of Frederic Remington bronzes in Kansas. Coming Through the Rye, Remington’s most popular multi-figured work, is especially memorable in its jubilance of off-duty cowboys. As impressive are the Charles M. Russell and Frank Tenny Hoffman sculptures.
An important part of the Coutts Museum is the work of local artists. Included in this section is the artwork of Coutts scholarship recipients. Since 1978, a scholarship committee from the museum has awarded substantial art scholarships to deserving art students at Butler County Community College in El Dorado, and law and art students at Washburn University in Topeka.
In addition to the permanent collection, the museum also arranges special exhibitions of touring collections and hosts special events throughout the year.
The museum welcomes groups – clubs, schools, and organizations for guided tours and/or meetings. Arrangements may be made for refreshments, also.