The North American Indian & Special Programs at the Muskegon Museum of Art

Piegan Encampment

Published June 16, 2018

MUSKEGON, Mich. — The Muskegon Museum of Art is marking the 150th Anniversary of the birth of renowned photographer Edward Curtis by presenting 150 photogravures from The North American Indian, Curtis’s monumental project comprised of 20 volumes of text and over 700 large portfolio prints that sought to document the Native American tribes of the Western United States.

The show will also feature the premiere of newly acquired copper plates used in the creation of the photogravures, a new gold-tone print of plate #1 — The Vanishing Race, and several of the volumes. The 150th Anniversary of Edward Curtis: 150 Masterpieces from The North American Indian runs through September 9, 2018.

Created over a span of decades, Curtis’s project was unique for its time, and was a passion that ultimately cost Curtis his health, livelihood, and family. But the enduring legacy of The North American Indian remains, a record of the humanity and strength of Native Americans, at a time when their way of life was under constant threat.

Chief Joseph – Nez Perce
1909, Photogravure

The Muskegon Museum of Art featured the entire collection of The North American Indian over the summer of 2017 in a multi-gallery exhibition that attracted visitors from around the world. The exhibition was both a celebration of Curtis’s achievement and an examination of the dual nature of its legacy, of the preservation of knowledge and culture, and the harmful perpetuations of stereotypes and prejudices that continue to affect the social and political landscape in our country today.

The 150th Anniversary of Edward Curtis: 150 Masterpieces from The North American Indian brings to view images that represent the breadth of subjects touched on in last year’s presentation. The 2018 exhibition also examines some of the criticism of Curtis’s works, using the photos to present the dilemmas that are part of an understanding of the project’s legacy.

RELATED PROGRAMS

The Burden of Representation and the Indigenous Influence in Music

The Burden of Representation: Lecture by Ben Mitchell

Thursday, June 21

5:30 pm Reception, 7:00 pm Lecture

Edward S. Curtis’s The North American Indian is an invaluable record of many aspects of early 20th century Native American culture, but important questions about his work and methods persist. Ben Mitchell, guest curator of The North American Indian 2017 exhibition, offers an overview of the significant and enduring critiques of The North American Indian, both as art and as ethnography, employing the voices and observations of both Native and non-Native artists and scholars. Event is admission is free and open to the public.

Screening of Rumble: Indians that Rocked the World

Thursday, July 19, 7:00 pm

(103 mins.) Rumble tells the story of the missing chapter in the history of American music: the indigenous influence. The film features music icons Mildred Bailey, Link Wray, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Jimi Hendrix, Jesse Ed Davis, and many more. Film admission is free and open to the public.

The exhibition is underwritten by Nichols Paper & Supply, Fifth Third Bank, Northern Machine Tool, the Verplank Donor Advised Fund of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation, Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, and Deborah DeVoursney. Media sponsor is WGVU Public Media. Program support is provided by the Michigan Council for Arts and Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Arts.

The Muskegon Museum of Art is located at 296 W. Webster Ave., in downtown Muskegon, Michigan. www.muskegonartmuseum.org.

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