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Hall of the Americas: New World Indian Art Installation

DATES May 01, 1965 through 1965 (date unknown)
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  • May 2, 1965 The Brooklyn Museum’s extensive collections of New World Indian Art will be shown in the new Hall of the Americas opening on May 2. Now that the last vestiges of Indian life in the Americas are disappearing, this collection constitutes a vast and often unique source of information on the development of human culture. A great deal of the material has never before been on public view.

    The exhibition, installed in four giant cases in the Great Hall of the Museum on the first floor, presents a comprehensive picture of fifty centuries of the colorful and exotic arts of Indian peoples from the Arctic to the Argentine. One section will display the art of the ancient and modern Eskimo, including spirit masks, elaborately carved ivory showing scenes of Eskimo life, and a selection of costumes of seal, caribou and other northern animals.

    In the area devoted to the Northwest Coast tribes of British Columbia and Alaska will be totem poles, house posts, and giant masks of the Cannibal Spirit, Thunderbird and Killer Whale as well as a display of the exquisite jewelry made by the California Indians. The Southwestern Pueblo cultures have a long tradition of fine art which goes back almost two thousand years. The earliest objects on exhibit will be patterned textiles and painted sandals, curious fertility effigies and decorated pottery. Later Pueblo art is represented by a large selection of Kachina dolls and masks. Other material from the Southwest includes fetishes and deities, large moveable feathered serpents, woven costumes and blankets, jewelry and ornaments.

    The Plains and Woodland section, including the Nathan Sturges Jarvis collection, contains some of the oldest and historically most important pieces known to exist. Displayed are painted skin robes, elaborately decorated costumes, and a group of drums, painted shields, war bonnets and weapons.

    Assembled in the case devoted to Mexico and Middle America are a number of sculptures including a life-sized God of Life and Death, a serpent-entwined Cuauhxicalli, or receptacle for hearts of sacrificial victims of the Aztecs. Stone, ceramic and jade sculptures, ornaments in shell, gold and obsidian will be displayed representing the Maya, Aztec, Olmec and other ancient cultures of Middle America - beginning with the earliest Pre-Classic peoples whose tiny figurines and abstract pottery forms date from before the first millennium B.C.

    Another of the Museum’s richest collections comes from Central America - Costa Rica, Panama and parts of Colombia - where Pre-Columbian Indian cultures produced a wealth of gold. Pendants, breast plates, gorgets, nose and earrings, and crowns, formerly worn by Central American kings as symbols of supernatural or political power, are displayed as well as grotesque stone and ceramic sculpture. The art of the Brazilian Amazon tribes includes huge mask-costumes in the shape of monsters and insects, fine ornaments of shell and beetle wings, and brilliant tropical bird feather headdresses.

    The final section is devoted to Pre-Columbian, Peruvian, Chilean and Argentine art ranging from the earliest Chavin period, about 1000 B.C., to the time of the Inca Conquest in the 16th century. The finest collection of Paracas textiles outside of Peru - enormous burial mantles, skirts, ponchos covered with embroideries and woven motifs of mythical creatures and religious symbols - will be shown. Also displayed are examples of Peruvian pottery, jewelry and featherwork.

    In all, nearly two thousand objects have been installed, most in such a way as to allow appreciation of each as a work of art as well as to provide the visitor with an understanding of how this art functioned in each Indian culture. An attempt has been made to convey the color and excitement of ceremonies, dances, temple rituals and other facets of Indian life and customs from which each art style derived its particular form and unique character.

    Construction of the Hall of the Americas was made possible by a grant from the New York Foundation while funds from the Avalon Foundation set up the laboratory to prepare the objects for public view. A contribution from Mr. Alastair Bradley Martin has enabled the Museum to carry on extensive research in connection with the exhibition and publications to follow.

    Because of the magnitude of the installation and the emphasis on orientation, work on the Hall of the Americas will continue for several months after it officially opens.

    Guests will preview the new gallery at the Museum’s annual ball, Festival of the Sun, on Saturday evening May 1.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1965, 019-020
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  • July 26, 1965 In addition to its permanently installed collections, The Brooklyn Museum is offering two special exhibitions this summer.

    "American Art From the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Herbert A. Goldstone” surveys late 19th and early 20th century American art with 129 paintings, watercolors and drawings. Works by Hopper, Pascin and Stella are particularly well represented and special emphasis is given to members of The Eight. Also included in this show, which will remain open through September 12, are a group of European and American sculptures. A fully illustrated catalogue is available for $2.00.

    “Twelve Years of Collecting: 1953 to 1965" presents 150 prints and drawings dating from the 16th century to the present. The graphics were selected from major gifts and purchases made by the Department of Prints and Drawings over the past twelve years. The exhibition, on view until December 26, includes important examples by both European and American artists.

    Nearly 2000 objects from the Museum’s extensive collections of New World Indian art are on view in the recently opened Hall of the Americas. This permanent exhibition covers a period of 5000 years and shows the colorful and exotic art of Indian peoples from the Arctic to the Argentine.

    For those who enjoy classical music, free concerts are held every Sunday in the Museum’s Auditorium Court beginning at 2:00 p.m.

    Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1953 - 1970. 1965, 021
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