January 23, 2010

Infinity of Nations at NMAI

National Museum of the American Indian in New York to Inaugurate a Permanent, Hemispheric Survey of Native American ArtA spectacular, permanent exhibition of 700 works of Native art from throughout North, Central and South America will open Saturday, Oct. 23, at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in New York, the George Gustav Heye Center. Organized by geographic regions, “Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian” will demonstrate the breadth of the museum’s renowned collection and highlight the historic importance of many of these iconic objects.

Five years in the making, “Infinity of Nations” will establish the museum as an educational cornerstone for the city, providing an expansive overview of Native America. The exhibition will also provide the foundation for eight seasons of public programs, each celebrating a different region and revealing the richness and diversity of indigenous nations.

Chosen to illustrate the geographic and chronological scope of the museum’s collections, the objects have been meticulously conserved and will be displayed in custom casework by the acclaimed Laborotorio Museotecnio Goppion of Milan, Italy.

“Infinity of Nations” will open with a display of headdresses, signifying the sovereignty of Native nations, including a magnificent Kayap√≥ krok-krok-ti, a macaw-and-heron-feather ceremonial headdress. Focal-point objects, representing each region, will include an Aps√°alooke (Crow) robe illustrated with warriors’ exploits; a detailed Mayan limestone bas relief depicting a ball player; an elaborately beaded Inuit tuilli, or woman’s inner parka, made for the mother of a newborn baby; a Mapuche kultrung, or hand drum, that depicts the cosmos; a carved and painted chief’s headdress depicting a killer whale with a raven emerging from its back, created and worn by Willie Seaweed (Kwakwaka’wakw); an anthropomorphic Shipibo joni chomo, or water vessel from Peru; a Chumash basket decorated with a Spanish-coin motif; an ancient mortar from Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon, N.M.; a gourd carved with a detailed picture of the Battle of Arica by Mariano Flores Kananga (Quechua); and an early Anishinaabe man’s outfit complete with headdress, leggings, shirt, sash and jewelry. The exhibition will conclude with works by Native artists such as Allan Houser (Warm Springs Chiricahua Apache) and Rick Bartow (Mad River Wiyot).
Comment:  For more on the NMAI, see Digital Fire Pit at NMAI and NMAI:  5 Years in 4 Minutes.

Below:  The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian at the George Gustav Heye Center in New York.

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