Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The Brooklyn Museum's Tipi exhibition, starring our Horse Mask

Eva Fognell, Curator of the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

Sitting in my office and reading the book Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains, in anticipation of my visit to the Brooklyn Museum, I came upon an image of a war shirt (Shirt for a Chief’s War Dress) from the early 19th century. It is truly stunning. Our own magnificent beaded Horse Mask is also in the catalogue, as is one page from our Black Hawk’s Ledger Book. On another page is an image of a local Mohawk Valley landmark, The Tipi (on Route 20), which is where some of us, (guilty!) go for Hot Dog Pete’s great hotdogs with chili. But I am digressing…  The Shirt for a Chief’s War Dress was collected by Dr. Nathan Sturges Jarvis at Fort Snelling, Minnesota. It is such a beauty! Brooklyn Museum has so many treasures from all over the world. Thinking about the museum brought back memories for me...

War Shirt and leggings

For a long time while I lived in New York City the Brooklyn Museum was my favorite because SHE lived there. SHE was and is the most fabulous piece of art ever made, in my humble opinion. On the museum’s label she was referred to as Figure of a Lioness, 3000 BC - 2800 BC, from Elam. The unforgettable face and sculptured body, only 3.25” high but larger than life, is no longer at the Brooklyn museum, unfortunately. The Lioness was on loan to the museum when I saw it and it was eventually sold at Sotheby’s in 2007. Take a peak at the Sotheby site for some amazing close ups of this magnificent masterpiece of early art.

So this time it is not the Lioness that is calling me to the Brooklyn Museum but the opportunity to see the Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains exhibit. I blogged about this show a few weeks ago so this is a follow up. The museum entrance had changed since I last visited. It was a much-discussed architectural revamp of the front. It was a bit startling to see the change but it will undoubtedly work better for the museum and it added more public space upon entering.

Front entry of the Brooklyn Museum

Tipi exhibition ad on Flatbush Avenue

The exhibition was on the 5th floor and covered quite a few galleries. Our Horse Mask is in the first gallery and looks magnificent. In the photo you can see the mask with the large tipi in the background. There were quite a few visitors in the galleries and everyone seemed to really enjoy the exhibit. The Shirt for a Chiefs War Dress looks even more powerful in person then in the catalogue.

Our Horse Mask in the gallery

Also check out what’s for sale in the gift shop! Love the little popcorn tipi! I had a wonderful visit and really enjoyed seeing our Horse Mask so prominently displayed.

Popcorn tipis for sale in the Brooklyn Museum's shop

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