Reinstallation of the Art of the Americas Galleries

August 19, 2017June 30, 2018

This new installation celebrating Native arts and artists from western North America is made possible by the transformative donation of more than 200 works from the Weisel Family Collection. These masterworks span a period of more than 800 years—from 11th-century Mimbres ceramics to 19th-century Navajo weavings. The selection also features compelling sculptures from the Pacific Northwest, including a monumental bear effigy made by a Haida artist and formerly in Andy Warhol’s personal collection. The Weisel Family’s  generous gift provides new depth and scope to the Museums’ holdings and facilitates an exploration of indigenous arts spanning from the American Southwest to the Arctic Circle.

Focused groupings encourage examination of materials, styles, and artistic heritage within geographical regions. Boldly patterned Mimbres ceramics are displayed near 19th- and 20th-century Southwest ceramics that demonstrate multigenerational artistic legacies. A selection of 19th century Navajo blankets and Pomo baskets reveals the skill and innovation of weavers working in both media who were experimenting with new materials and responding to new markets. Carvings made by Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Kwakwaka'wakw artists show the significance of ceremony and storytelling in the Northwest Coast region. Works by contemporary artists are featured alongside historic pieces, revealing stylistic continuity and dynamism. Similar juxtapositions also characterize a display of sculptures and carvings—highlights from the 2006 bequest from the Thomas G. Fowler Collection—that celebrate the aesthetic and utilitarian sensibilities of Arctic life from ancient to modern times.

The reinstallation can be viewed in de Young Galleries 1–4.

Image: Bear effigy, ca 1870. Haida. Wood and paint, 29 1/2 x 20 7/8 x 44 1/2 in. (75 x 53 x 113 cm). Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Gift of the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection, 2013.76.126


This exhibition is included with general admission. Become a member and see it for free!