Susan Bridges: Inside Heaven’s Gate

From October 22, 2022 – April 30, 2023 in the History and Spotlight Galleries

This striking collection of photos brings the 19th century vividly back to life in the 21st century in the Museum’s History and Spotlight Galleries. During the filming of the epic 1980 western Heaven’s Gate, Susan Bridges took behind-the-scenes photos of the actors, sets, and scenery. Her photos capture never- before-seen glimpses from the director’s chair and intimate portraits shot on location near Glacier National Park in 1979.

Written and directed by Michael Cimino, the movie featured Kris Kristofferson, Christopher Walken, John Hurt, Sam Waterston, Brad Dourif, Isabelle Huppert, Jeff Bridges, and Joseph Cotten.
All exhibition images copyright 1979 by Susan Bridges.
Photo of Susan Bridges with camera, by Jeff Bridges.

About Susan Bridges:

Susan Bridges is an accomplished photographer and philanthropist who has spent her life championing many causes. She is a mother of three daughters, a grandmother and the wife and partner of actor Jeff Bridges. A native of the Midwest, Susan attended the University of Minnesota and the University of Montana. In 1974 she moved to Los Angeles to begin a new chapter of her life.

Susan attended the ArtCenter College of Design and the California Institute of the Arts to explore the art of photography. She also studied with photographer Lisette Model in New York City. Susan has taken photographs on feature films, including Heaven’s Gate, The American Success Company, and a film she associate-produced, Cold Feet. Her photographs have been published in numerous newspapers and magazines.

She supports many organizations, including VNA Health, The Food Bank of Santa Barbara, Unity Shoppe, Direct Relief, Livingston Food Resource Center, The Livingston Farm to School Program, and Yellowstone Forever. She is a founding member of Vital Ground Foundation, a nonprofit land trust organization that preserves habitat for wildlife in the northern Rocky Mountains. Most dear to her heart is family. She and Jeff have been married for 45 years and enjoy dividing their time between Santa Barbara and Montana. Susan loves watching her family grow to include three sons- in-law and three grandchildren.


“Fiddler on Skates” (1979) by Susan Bridges. David Mansfield created the musical score by adapting classical music and classic songs and arranging melodies from the immigrants’ native folk songs. David and his fiddle take to the floor to warm up the skaters.