February 28, 1951:
The Brooklyn Museum opened to the public today (Wed.) an exhibition which includes Indian art of Alaska and Canada which […] chiefly 19th century entitled “Northwest Coast Art”. The preview and tea was held yesterday (Tues.) for Museum members and guests. The exhibition will remain on view through April 15.
The term ‘Northwest Coast’ describes the 1,000 miles of rocky shore from the Columbia river North into Alaska. As this area is isolated from the rest of the mainland by high mountains, the culture of its people was able to develop along different lines from others inland. Also its warm climate (due to the Humboldt Current), and the abundance of lumber, fish and game created a prosperous society with plenty of leisure time to devote to leisure activities. Houses were decorated with carved house posts, family crests adorned all sorts of household objects, elaborate rituals demanded colorful theatrical props, and huge feasts resulted in the need for large food dishes, etc.
Examples of all the arts are included in the exhibition: large houseposts, feast bowls and spoons, horn dishes, painted leather robes, cedar-bark garments, theatrical masks, etc.
A life-size sculpture of a man (Kwakiutl tribe) with a knife in his upraised hand greets the visitor in the Museum entrance hall.
Other outstanding objects are: an 8 foot long fish elaborately carved and painted, a huge house board and house posts, a mask in the form of a beaver which is inlaid with mother-of-pearl.
Objects in the exhibition are from The Brooklyn Museum’s collection or are lent for the exhibition by the following: American Museum of Natural History, Museum of the American Indian-Heye Foundation, Peabody Museum-Harvard University, Portland Art Museum, University Museum-University of Pennsylvania, Michael D. Coe, Rene D’Harnoncourt, Albert Gallatin, Yeffe V. Kimball, Nelson A. Rockefeller, and Hugh Smith.
Brooklyn Museum Archives. Records of the Department of Public Information. Press releases, 1947 - 1952. 01-03/1951, 026.