Sunday, January 30th, their newly reinstalled, 23,000 s.f. of Native American galleries reopens and they’ve done a superb job. DAM holds one of the nation’s most comprehensive collections of American Indian art, with approximately 18,000 artworks ranging from prehistoric to contemporary—remarkable in itself. But the redesigned American Indian and Northwest Coast galleries take a fresh approach, choosing to focus on the individual artists, their creations and inspirations.
Far from an old-school approach that offers up Native American displays as “dead” collections of artifacts from times gone by, the museum underwent both a physical and intellectual overhaul. Now, the stunning creativity of various cultural groups throughout history is juxtaposed alongside the work of contemporary artists, not only paying homage to what came before, but extending the narrative in compelling and modern ways. Interactive technology has been incorporated to give visitors of all ages a chance to “participate” with some displays and to address the question about what is—or isn’t—American Indian art.
The galleries’ interior has been entirely reconfigured with new platforms, studio areas, and interactive media displays. They focus on 9 regional areas: artists of the Arctic, California, the Plateau and Great Basin, Northeast, Northwest Coast, the Plains, the Southeast, Southwest, and Great Lakes. Each brings something remarkable to the table.
The renovated and reimagined American Indian galleries at the DAM are a great space for family visits, students, artists, and even a stimulating place for any individual to while away an afternoon. They are guaranteed to spark discussions, amazement, creative ideas, and send you away with a renewed appreciation for the art of these cultures. As Nancy Blomberg, curator of the collection and leader of this project, says, “This exciting new presentation will highlight the artist’s hand and give visitors the opportunity to watch artists at work and evaluate their own perceptions of American Indian art.”
For more information: http://www.denverartmuseum.org or 720.865.5000.
IMAGE CREDITS: Top left: George Walkus, Kwakwka’wakw, Four-faced Hamat’sa Mask (detail), about 1938. Denver Art Museum; Native Arts acquisition fund. Right: Artist not known, Navajo, eyedazzler-style rug, about 1885. Denver Art Museum; Gift of The Douglas Society. Lower left: Mateo Romero, Cochiti, Voices at Wounded Knee, Series #2, 2008. Denver Art Museum; William Sr. and Dorothy Harmsen Collection, by exchange.
-- Rosemary Carstens