FIG. 23 (above): Native
installation at the Nelson-
Atkins Museum of Art,
Kansas City, Missouri.
Photo: Bob Greenspan. Courtesy of
the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.
as well as plans for an inaugural catalog of the collection
to be published in 2020. To date, eighty new
works have been accessioned, all gifts or purchases
with funds from local and national donors. Dedicated
donor funds at the museum supported the acquisition
of an additional twenty-two works.
Several symposia featuring Native American artists
have taken place since 2009, as well as scholarly
presentations and panels. Recently, a temporary exhibition
curated by Mellon Fellow Hayk Badalyan,
titled (RE)CLAIM, mounted in the American galleries,
focused on identity and featured eleven contemporary
Native artists. And every year since 2011,
through the efforts of museum educator Sarah Hyde
Schmiedeler and her team, The Nelson-Atkins Museum
of Art has hosted an American Indian Family
Day Celebration, engaging visitors with Native communities—
local, regional, and national—including
students, staff, and faculty from nearby Haskell Indian
Nations University in Lawrence, Kansas.
Currently, new acquisitions from the 2015–2019
gift initiative are being rotated into the galleries and
will be included in the upcoming catalog. Many of
these have never before been exhibited or published.
After eighty-six years, Native American art at the
Nelson-Atkins has assumed its rightful place among
the world’s great artistic traditions, though the collection
and its presentation remain very much a
work in progress.
fl ect the realities over time of tribal migrations and
removals, intertribal and Euro-American interaction,
and extensive trade—are removed.
Text panels and case labels provide cultural and historical
information relevant to the works, as well as
concepts fundamental to a basic understanding of Native
American art. Throughout, the singular achievements
of individual artists working within the milieu
of their own culture and time are the focus. The integration
of works from every era supports an underlying
theme of continuum and change, and the result is
one of the largest displays of the artistic achievement
of Native North American peoples in any comprehensive
fi ne arts museum in the world.
A SECOND EXHIBITION AND GIFT
In 2010, at the culmination of the gallery opening
and just as the Nelson’s fi fth director, Julián Zugazagoitia,
arrived, I was invited by Stéphane Martin at
the Musée du Quai Branly to curate The Plains Indians:
Artists of Earth and Sky. Julián immediately
embraced the project, forging a partnership with the
Paris institution that enabled the exhibition to travel
to the United States—fi rst to the Nelson-Atkins,
following the opening in Paris in 2014, and then on
to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
In 2015, with the encouragement of the Soslands,
the department embarked on a second gift initiative,