Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Infinity of Nations Collection

Infinity of Nations. Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian.

"The objects in this echibition were largely collected by George Gustav Heye (1874-1957), a New Yorker who quit Wall Street to indulge his passion for American Indian artifacts. Over time, Heye gathered some 800,000 pieces from throughout the Americas; the largest such collection ever compiled by one person."
In 1989 the collection was transferred to the Smithsonian Institution, "becoming a part of the National Museum of the American Indian. Today, the objects in Heye's collection are being reinterpreted by the descendants of the people who made them; providing American Indian perspectives
 on the Native past and present."


"Travel to each region on the map, and complete the activity.  You will gain specific knowledge about a Native nation, its environment, and an object.  For each activity you complete, you will earn a badge that proves your knowledge.  Collect all ten badges to become an Infinity of Nations Culture Quest Leader."

Patagonia Map. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Andes Map. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Amazon Map. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Mesoamerica/Caribbean Map. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Southwest Map. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Plains/Plateau Map. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.


Woodlands Map. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Pipe Tomahawk Presented to Chief Tecumseh (Shawnee, 1768-1813). Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.
Pipe tomahawk presented to Chief Tecumseh (Shawnee, 1768-1813)
"This ceremonial pipe-tomahawk, a gift from Colonel Henry Procter to Tecumseh, probably was presented to the Shawnee war chief at Fort Malden, in Amherstburg, Ontario, late in the autumn of 1812. During that summer, when the War of 1812 officially started, Tecumseh led Native American warriors against the Americans on the Detroit frontier. In mid-August he joined with British forces led by General Isaac Brock to capture Detroit from General William Hull and an American army."

Mississippian Gorget AD 1250-1350. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.
"We have given the name Mississippian to the people who produced this shell gorget, and we call their religion the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. In much of the Woodlands, the Morning Star was equated with masculinity—the ultimate warrior, hunter, protector, and defender, as well as conqueror and destroyer."

Potawatomi Bag. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

"The designs on the exteriors of twined bags, referred to as panel bags, deal with fundamental cosmological concepts shared throughout the Great Lakes area. Twined bags often combine images of cosmological creatures like Underwater Panthers, as seen on this Potowatomi panel bag, and Thunderbirds. These bags are referred to as panel bags because they combine two different twining techniques"

California/Great Basin Map. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Northwest Coast Map. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.

Artic/Subartic Map. Image Courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian.


"The National Museum of the American Indian has augmented Heye’s collection with some 15,000 pieces of modern and contemporary Native art. The largest single addition to the museum’s contemporary holdings was the transfer, in 2000, of the collection amassed by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB). This New Deal–era agency was created within the U.S. Department of the Interior to benefit Native people by expanding the market for Indian-made art. The IACB collection consists of approximately 6,300 objects, including sculpture, paintings, pottery, beadwork, dolls, textiles, and jewelry.

New acquisitions by the museum encompass Native art made using traditional media, such as pottery, basketry, and beadwork, as well as multimedia pieces, metal sculpture, and other works reflecting a clear and strong engagement with contemporary art. "


by Cécile R. Ganteaume, the Infinity of Nations exhibition curator, 
American Indian Art Magazine, Autumn 2010 PDF.

Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections 

of the National Museum of the American Indian 

Edited by Cécile R. Ganteaume

"A gorgeous, fully illustrated official companion volume to Infinity of Nations, the National Museum of the American Indian's most ambitious and comprehensive exhibition to date. Following an introduction on the power of objects to engage our imagination, each chapter presents an overview of a region of the Americas and its cultural complexities, written by a noted specialist in that region. Together, these writers create an extraordinary mosaic. What emerges is a portrait of a complex and dynamic world shaped from its earliest history by contact and exchange among peoples."

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