The Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection
The Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection is an extraordinary anthology of Native American art assembled over three decades by Thom Weisel, a pioneer in the development of the tech industry in Silicon Valley and a noted collector of and advocate for Native American art. The collection includes approximately 200 objects and spans nearly a thousand years of artistic production, from 11th-century Mimbres ceramics to 19th-century baskets and pots by recognized artists such as the Hopi-Tewa artist Nampeyo, and additional masterworks of Navajo weaving. Textiles from the collection are held within the department of Textile and Costume Arts, while other objects are held by the Art of the Americas department. All are gifts or promised gifts to the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.
The significant gift of the Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection allows the de Young to present a comprehensive survey of Native American art with a distinctly western focus, stretching from the Arctic Circle to the American Southwest. Included in the collection are more than 50 objects made by artists working in the Mimbres ceramic tradition, practiced from roughly AD 1000 to 1150; Navajo blankets—including two rare first-phase examples (ca. 1820s‒1850s)—and several classic-period Navajo serapes; major pieces of monumental Northwest Coast art; and the first Plains ledger drawings to enter the Museums’ permanent holdings. The collection’s carefully chosen artworks can substantiate the emerging scholarly theory that, through technical analysis, archival research, and visual comparisons, it may be possible to recognize the hands of the individuals who created many of these works.