The permanent exhibition of North American Indian art at The Brooklyn Museum has been completely reinstalled for the first time in more than thirty years in the Hall of the Americas. It will go on view to coincide with the opening on October 4, 1991 of Objects of Myth and Memory, a major traveling exhibition of American Indian art organized by The Brooklyn Museum.
Conceived to reflect the major strengths of the Museum’s collections, the North American Indian installation is divided into Northwest Coast, Southwest, and Plains sections. Many of the objects included have been off view for more than three decades. They will be contained in two of the four large display cases that have long occupied the Hall of the Americas where the Museum’s collection of art from the Americas and the Pacific Islands is displayed.
The Plains sections will consist largely of objects from the Nathan Sturges Jarvis collection, one of the earliest documented Eastern Plains collections in the United States. It was assembled in the 1830’s and acquired by the Museum in 1950. Prestigious garments, many of them decorated with painting; colorful beads and quillwork; pipes; and war clubs are among the objects displayed.
The artistry of the Northwest Coast tribes is represented by a variety of objects, from huge wooden potlatch figures to small, delicately carved ivory shaman’s charms. Also on display will be a detailed scale model of a Haida chieftain’s house, which was built expressly for the Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893. The majestic totem poles and housepost, which have long fascinated visitors, will remain on view.
The previous installation contained no pots or textiles. Now from the Southwest there will be an array of 19th century pottery from several Pueblos, including a group of finely painted Zuni water jars and contemporary ceramics by some of the great names in Pueblo pottery, such as Maria Martinez and Margaret Tafoya. Also displayed will be a number of important textiles, including a Hopi wedding blanket and two exceptional Navajo blankets.
The reinstallation has been organized by Diana Fane, Curator of African, Oceanic, and New World Art. The reinstallation of the Jarvis collection has been funded, in part, by support [from] the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.
A new long-term installation selected from the Brooklyn Museum of Art’s important collection of Native American art from the Southwest and California has just opened. It includes several pieces that were featured in Objects of Myth and Memory: American Indian Art at The Brooklyn Museum that have not been on public view since the exhibition tour concluded in 1993.
Among the works in this new installation are elaborately dressed nineteenth-century Zuni and Hopi kachina dolls that represent various figures in ritual dances. A selection of ceramics documents developments in Pueblo pottery from the late nineteenth century to the present. Works by potters Margaret Tafoya, Helen Shupla, Grace Chapella, Jody Folwell, Gladys Paquin, and Grace Chino demonstrate how contemporary potters are working within this ancient tradition.
The native arts of California are represented by a Hupa woman’s skirt made from deer hide and decorated with dense rows of abalone and clam shells, a selection of horn spoons including two modern pieces carved by Hupa-Yurok artist George Blake, and a group of finely woven Pomo baskets.