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NATIVE AMERICAN ART

The Saint Louis Art Museum has collected Native North American art since the first decades of the 20th century. Among the Museum's earliest acquisitions of Native American art were gifts received during the 1920s, which included several California baskets and a Chilkat dance apron. Over the next several decades, the collection built strengths in Native arts from the Northwest Coast, Arctic, Plains, and Southwest through Museum purchases and the generosity of many individual donors. The Museum's new strength in Plains art results from the important gift of the Donald Danforth Jr. Collection.

The Native American art collection now encompasses almost 700 objects that span prehistoric, historic, and contemporary periods. Click here to explore ancient art from North America at the Museum. Long celebrated as hallmarks of the collection, singular works from the Northwest Coast and Arctic include a Haida shaman figure by the artist Simeon Stilthda, a Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) potlatch copper, Dzunukwa mask, and a Yup'ik mask. The Museum has collected works by contemporary Native artists since the 1970s, including prints and photographs by Fritz Scholder, Mark Henderson, and Wendy Red Star.

Since 2010, the Donald Danforth Jr. Collection has transformed the Museum's holdings of Native North American art by expanding the depth and presence of late 19th-century art from the Plains. Personal arts greatly characterize the Danforth Collection. These include an array of moccasins, pipe bags, assorted bags, pouches and cases, jewelry, children's items, and horse regalia, most composed of hide adorned with beadwork and quillwork in many patterns and colors. Some highlights include: Lakota/Dakota (Sioux) moccasins and pipe bags, a Transmontane parfleche, and an Apsáalooke (Crow) model cradle and martingale. Selections from the Danforth Collection can be seen in the dedicated Donald Danforth Jr. Gallery, which opened in summer 2012 as part of the Museum's expansion.

The Native American art galleries, including the Donald Danforth Jr. Gallery, are located in Galleries 322, 323, and 326. Dedicated to Northwest Coast and Arctic arts, Gallery 326 was reinstalled in summer 2014.

View our Native American Collection

Curator

Alexander Brier Marr joined the Museum as assistant curator for Native American Art in January 2016. Marr is completing his doctoral dissertation as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Rochester, and recently served as Mellon Pre-Doctoral Fellow in Native American Art at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. His article, "Scales of Vision: Kiowa Model Tipis and the Mooney Commission," was recently published in Winterthur Portfolio and he is finalizing an extensively revised edition of Art of the North American Indians: The Thaw Collection at the Fenimore Museum as co-editor. He has served as board secretary for the Native American Art Studies Association since 2011, and has participated in the Smithsonian Institution’s Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology and the Otsego Institute for Native American Art. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including those from the American Philosophical Society and the Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art. Alex received a graduate degree in visual and cultural studies from the University of Rochester, and an undergraduate degree in art history with honors from Beloit College.

Related Programs

If It Wasn’t for the Women: Behind and through the Lense
Panel Discussion. Saturday, March 19, 10:30 am

Contemporary photographers Jen Everett, Priya Kambli, and Wendy Red Star explore African American, Indian American, and Native American cultural identity in their work, respectively.

The Saint Louis Art Museum has collected Native North American art since the first decades of the 20th century. Among the Museum's earliest acquisitions of Native American art were gifts received during the 1920s, which included several California baskets and a Chilkat dance apron. Over the next several decades, the collection built strengths in Native arts from the Northwest Coast, Arctic, Plains, and Southwest through Museum purchases and the generosity of many individual donors. The Museum's new strength in Plains art results from the important gift of the Donald Danforth Jr. Collection.

The Native American art collection now encompasses almost 700 objects that span prehistoric, historic, and contemporary periods. Click here to explore ancient art from North America at the Museum. Long celebrated as hallmarks of the collection, singular works from the Northwest Coast and Arctic include a Haida shaman figure by the artist Simeon Stilthda, a Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) potlatch copper, Dzunukwa mask, and a Yup'ik mask. The Museum has collected works by contemporary Native artists since the 1970s, including prints and photographs by Fritz Scholder, Mark Henderson, and Wendy Red Star.

Since 2010, the Donald Danforth Jr. Collection has transformed the Museum's holdings of Native North American art by expanding the depth and presence of late 19th-century art from the Plains. Personal arts greatly characterize the Danforth Collection. These include an array of moccasins, pipe bags, assorted bags, pouches and cases, jewelry, children's items, and horse regalia, most composed of hide adorned with beadwork and quillwork in many patterns and colors. Some highlights include: Lakota/Dakota (Sioux) moccasins and pipe bags, a Transmontane parfleche, and an Apsáalooke (Crow) model cradle and martingale. Selections from the Danforth Collection can be seen in the dedicated Donald Danforth Jr. Gallery, which opened in summer 2012 as part of the Museum's expansion.

The Native American art galleries, including the Donald Danforth Jr. Gallery, are located in Galleries 322, 323, and 326. Dedicated to Northwest Coast and Arctic arts, Gallery 326 was reinstalled in summer 2014.

View our Native American Collection

Curator

Alexander Brier Marr joined the Museum as assistant curator for Native American Art in January 2016. Marr is completing his doctoral dissertation as a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Rochester, and recently served as Mellon Pre-Doctoral Fellow in Native American Art at the Portland Art Museum in Oregon. His article, "Scales of Vision: Kiowa Model Tipis and the Mooney Commission," was recently published in Winterthur Portfolio and he is finalizing an extensively revised edition of Art of the North American Indians: The Thaw Collection at the Fenimore Museum as co-editor. He has served as board secretary for the Native American Art Studies Association since 2011, and has participated in the Smithsonian Institution’s Summer Institute in Museum Anthropology and the Otsego Institute for Native American Art. He is the recipient of numerous awards, including those from the American Philosophical Society and the Center for the Advanced Study in the Visual Arts, National Gallery of Art. Alex received a graduate degree in visual and cultural studies from the University of Rochester, and an undergraduate degree in art history with honors from Beloit College.


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