Heard Museum Reopens Landmark Boarding School Exhibition, “Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories”

Published December 13, 2018

Most Visited and Thematically Powerful Exhibition Gets Update After 18-Year Run

PHOENIX Opened in 2000, Remembering Our Indian School Days: The Boarding School Experience is currently being updated and will reopen on Sat., Jan. 26, 2019 as Away From Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories. The new permanent exhibition has undergone a complete makeover to augment the complex and emotional stories of those whose lives were impacted by the federally-operated boarding school system.

Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories explores the efforts of the United States government, during the 19th and 20th centuries, to educate and assimilate American Indian students through the controversial and often tragic practice of removing children from their families and forcibly placing them in distant residential schools.

“The Boarding School Experience was originally conceived as a five-year installation, but the exhibition elicited such an enormous response from visitors that it remained on view for over 18 years,” said Janet Cantley, curator at the Heard Museum. “We are so excited and proud to present the updated exhibition, as it’s been a three-year endeavor. It’s an emotional and important topic so it was critical that the new exhibition conveys the complex history of these schools and recognizes the resilience, vitality and creativity of American Indians/Alaska Natives.”

The new interactive exhibition will feature works of art, archival materials and first-person interviews in an immersive setting to give visitors an in-depth and profound experience with the topic. The updated installation features a digital timeline that will allow visitors to scroll through dates and images from the early 17th-century mission schools to leading schools in self-determination on the Navajo Nation, as well as a touchscreen map that will provide photo galleries of select schools with a long history in American Indian education. Monitors placed throughout the gallery will offer first-person stories about boarding schools from students, administrators, teachers and scholars. The exhibition will also offer new object and archival collections to enrich the stories of the generations of Native students who attended the schools. Additionally, an educational curriculum was created for high school teachers as a means to teach students about the lesser-known American Indian boarding school experience.

To accompany the opening of Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories on Sat., Jan. 26, 2019, the Heard Museum will offer a symposium moderated by K. Tsianina Lomawaima from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Steele Auditorium. For more information about the exhibition and symposium visit Heard.org.

About the Heard Museum

Since its founding in 1929, the Heard Museum, a private non-profit organization, has grown in size and stature to become recognized internationally for the quality of its collections, world-class exhibitions, educational programming and its unmatched festivals. Dedicated to the advancement of American Indian art, the Heard successfully presents the stories of American Indian people from a first-person perspective, as well as exhibitions that showcase the beauty and vitality of traditional and contemporary art.

Away from Home: American Indian Boarding School Stories is made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities and an anonymous donor. The exhibition curriculum package is made possible by APS and PetSmart, Inc. The Heard Museum is supported, in part, by the generosity of Heard Museum members and donors, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and prominent national and regional foundations and corporations. In association with the Smithsonian, the Heard Museum is part of a select group of museums, cultural, educational and arts organizations that share the Smithsonian’s resources with the nation.

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