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Knowing the West

Coming Soon

About the Exhibition

Pair of Gauntlets, Lakota-Métis, North or South Dakota, ca. 1890, native tanned leather, glass and brass beads, and cotton cloth, each: 15 in. x 8 in. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri. Gift of Berte and Alan Hirschfield, 2016.54.1,2. Image courtesy Nelson-Atkins Media Services, Joshua Ferdinand.

The first major traveling exhibition to focus on the coexistence of art created between 1785 and 1922 by Native American and non-Native American artists, Knowing the West celebrates the American West as inclusive, complex, and reflective of the diverse peoples who contributed to art and life there.

Americans often feel they “know the West,” whether informed by direct experience or popular culture. Knowing the West embraces these impressions and expands ideas of art of the West by presenting more than 100 artworks including textiles, baskets, paintings, pottery, sculpture, beadworks, saddles, and prints. This exhibition recontextualizes historic artwork, encourages deeper exploration of a familiar topic, and celebrates the rich cultures that reflect the complexity of the American West. In collaboration with Rizzoli International Publications Inc., Crystal Bridges will present a fully illustrated publication to accompany Knowing the West, featuring essays by curators, curatorial advisors, and scholars. The book, like the exhibition, will center Native voices and perspectives as it takes a deeper look at the project’s aim to complicate popular perceptions of the American West.

Select works from the exhibition

The exhibition is co-curated by Mindy N. Besaw, PhD, curator of American art at Crystal Bridges, and Jami C. Powell, PhD, Osage Nation, associate director of curatorial affairs and curator of Indigenous art at the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College.

Exhibition Sponsors