Image: © The Metropolitan Museum of Art, photo by Bruce Schwarz

Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection, a new exhibition on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) runs until October 6, 2019, and features 116 artworks from more than 50 cultures across North America.

Dating from the 2nd to the early 20th century, the diverse objects are an accumulation of gifts, donations and loans to The Met from pioneering collectors Charles and Valerie Diker. This collection has long been considered the most significant collection of historical Native American art in private hands. Over the past 45 years, the Dikers have formed a collection that represents the highest artistic achievements of Native American cultures across North America.

The exhibit highlights pieces from seven distinct regions: Woodlands, Plains, Plateau, California and Great Basin, Southwest, Northwest Coast and the Arctic. Featured works cover all of the major artistic forms by both identified and unrecorded Native Americans: paintings, drawings, sculpture, textiles, quill and bead embroidery, basketry and ceramics.

Some featured pieces include a circa 1800 shoulder bag made from finely tanned and dyed deerskin hide, embellished with porcupine quills by an Anishinaabe woman, possibly from Ontario, Canada; a striking circa 1895–1900 ceramic jar depicting the Butterfly Maiden spirit being (Palhik Mana) by renowned Hopi-Tewa potter Nampeyo from Hano Village, Arizona, USA; and a monumental 1907 woven basket by Washoe artist Louisa Keyser from Carson City, Nevada, USA.

Art of Native America will be the first exhibition of Indigenous American art to be presented in the Met’s American Wing since it was established in 1924. “The presentation of the Diker Collection represents a transformative moment for the Museum, enabling us to expand and enrich the stories we tell about American art and culture,” said Daniel H. Weiss, President and CEO of The Met. A range of educational programming has been organized to complement the exhibition, and will be free with museum admission.

The exhibition is organized at The Met by Sylvia Yount (Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge of the American Wing) and guest curated by Gaylord Torrence (Fred and Virginia Merrill Senior Curator of American Indian Art at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art). The installation of Art of Native America was designed by Daniel Kershaw (Exhibition Design Manager) and Ria Roberts (Graphic Designer) of The Met Design Department.

The exhibition is made possible by The Peter Jay Sharp Foundation, the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund, the Enterprise Holdings Endowment, and the Walton Family Foundation. The catalogue that accompanies the exhibit is made possible by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.