November is Native American History Month. Check out some of these museum exhibitions to learn more about the ancient Native American civilizations that once called America home. Also, check out the DVD Lost Worlds: Georgia to learn more about the ancient Native Americans of Georgia. Also check out the new book Mayan Calendar Prophecies: Predictions for 2012-2052 to learn more about Mayan predictions for 2012 and beyond as well as the mysterious origins of the Mayan calendar. Be sure to click “subscribe” above to subscribe to this column and get email updates when new articles are published.
- “Faces of the Maya: Profiles in Continuity and Resilience“: Opened April 26. Tulane University Middle American Research Institute Maya Exhibit. Inaugural exhibit of the renovated Middle American Research Institute that celebrates the development of the Maya civilization from its beginngings in 1000 BC to the present. Displaying objects from MARI’s collection that have never been seen before, this exhibit attempts to dispel erroneous notions of the Maya civilization that have recently gained currency due to the “2012 frenzy.” Tulane. http://mari.tulane.edu/exhibits.html
- “Verdant Earth and Teeming Seas: The Natural World in Ancient American Art“: February 11, 2012 – November 4, 2012. Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art Exhibit. This exhibition highlights the Harn Museum of Art’s collection of ceramic figures and vessels, stone sculptures, jade ornaments, and textiles from diverse cultures of Ancient America including, Mesoamerica, Central America, and the Andes. This exhibition explores the many ways in which Maya, Inca, and Aztec cultures were inspired by the natural world. It introduces the natural materials they used and features various portrayals of flora and fauna from ancient American environments. The ways in which these cultures depicted animals and plants range from highly naturalistic and humorous to abstract and symbolic. While many works show a keen observation of the natural world, others show that Pre-Columbian people drew from the world around them for their mythology and for symbols of power. The exhibition draws from the Harn’s holdings, from private collections, and from the collections of the Florida Museum of Natural History, SW 34th Street and Hull Road, Gainesville, Florida. http://www.harn.ufl.edu/exhibitions/
- “The Inca Trail; The Past of the Andes“: June 9, 2011-December 20, 2012. Museu Barbier-Mueller d’Art Precolombí de Barcelona , Barcelona. This exhibition focuses particularly on two moments in the pre-Columbian history of the Andes: a section devoted to Inca culture with many outstanding objects that testify to the importance of Inca civilisation; whilst another section narrates the history of the Andes through exhibits from the earlier, pre-Inca cultures that settled in this mountain region. http://www.barbier-mueller.ch/barcelone/expositions/
- “Children of the Plumed Serpent: The Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico“: July 29-November 25. Dallas Museum of Art Exhibit. Children of the Plumed Serpent illuminates the social and cultural complexities of late pre-Columbian and early colonial eras as expressed in the art of the period and examines the enduring nature of these complexities in contemporary Mesoamerican societies. Recent scholarship demonstrates that a confederacy of city-states in southern Mexico, largely dominated by Nahua, Mixtec, and Zapotec nobility, successfully resisted both Aztec and Spanish subjugation. Calling themselves the “Children of the Plumed Serpent,” because of their belief that Quetzalcoatl, the human incarnation of the Plumed Serpent, had founded their royal lineages, this ruling class of nobles, called caciques, resurrected themselves and continued to affect cultural development in Mesoamerica during a dramatic period of social transformation. The exhibition will explore the extraordinary wonders in fresco, codices, polychrome ceramics, gold, turquoise, shell, textiles, featherwork and other precious materials that were produced by these confederacies between AD 1200 and 1500, whose influence spread throughout Mesoamerica by means of vast networks of trade and exchange. Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, Texas. http://www.dm-art.org
- “Gods & Gold“: Ongoing. San Diego Museum of Man. Uncover centuries of Latin America’s mysterious ancient past in Gods & Gold: Ancient Treasures From Mexico to Peru. The exhibition features the Museum’s stunning collections of Mexican, Central American, and South American archaeological objects. See rare gold and jewelry, exotic figurines, intricate stonework, and exquisite pottery from the ancient world. Explore distinctions in artistic styles, techniques, and materials used to create the numerous intriguing pieces created by such cultures as the Maya, Aztec, Inca, and many others. San Diego Museum of Man, 1350 El Prado, Balboa Park San Diego, CA. http://www.museumofman.org/index.html
- “Precolumbian Gold“: Ongoing. The Fabergé Museum in Baden-Baden, Germany. The Fabergé Museum opened a special exhibition of his collection of gold objects from Central and South America pre-Columbian times. We provide the unique gold objects from different American cultures of the Incas, Mayans and Aztecs from the period of 400 years before Christ until the time of the conquest of America by the Conquest in 1500. Besides 45 gold artefacts, we present 44 objects from semiprecious stones – jade and nephrite. http://www.faberge-museum.de/show.php?news&nid=31
- “‘For I am the Black Jaguar’: Shamanic Visionary Experience in Ancient American Art“: September 8, 2012-January 5, 2013 | Carlos Museum Exhibit. From earliest times to today, indigenous peoples of the Americas have valued shamanic visionary trance as one of their most important cultural and religious experiences. In Mesoamerica, Central America, and the Andes shamans still speak of their wondrous trance journeys to other cosmic realms, the truths they learn, and the information they bring back to cure their communities’ ills.
The exhibition ‘For I am the Black Jaguar’: Shamanic Visionary Experience in Ancient American Art, highlights works from the Carlos Museum collections that embody the shamanistic visionary experience. The show’s title is based on a quote from a contemporary traditional Taulipang shaman of northern Brazil, “Call upon me for I am the black jaguar…I drive away the illness…” The shaman’s statement conveys the most pervasive shamanic visionary experience of actually becoming a powerful animal, the black jaguar in particular.
The exhibition includes extraordinary works of art showcasing the most important elements of trance consciousness, especially the visionary himself or herself, transforming into an animal such as a powerful black jaguar, an enormous whale shark, a predatory owl, or a venomous rattlesnake. Animal selves and spirit companions are considered to be guides to the shaman in caring for the community, the animals’ powers augmenting the shaman’s innate healing abilities.
Works of art illustrate how visions are achieved in traditional settings—from meditation, to drumming and dancing, to ingesting sacred plants such as peyote, caapi vines, and espingo seeds. Modern shamans refer to these as “plant teachers,” and they are understood to be wise spiritual guides through the cosmic realms beyond the terrestrial. The exhibition examines the central role that visionary experience plays in Amerindian shamanism—informing art in all media, periods and regions—and demonstrates how contemporary accounts by practicing shamans can illuminate the choices made by ancient American artists. Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University, 571 South Kilgo Circle, Atlanta, Georgia. http://carlos.emory.edu/black-jaguar
- “All Sides Considered: New Research on the Maya Collection.“: Opens September 7- Dumbarton Oaks Exhibit. A transnational mosaic, a pendant recycled over two thousand years ago, a bowl that sounds like the sea – these are some of the ancient Maya treasures on display in All Sides Considered. The artifacts illustrate the beauty and ingenuity of Maya art, the techniques used in its production, and the value placed on precious materials. Displays also shed light on the modern scientific inquiry that led to these findings. They are the result of extensive collaboration across disciplines and institutions among Maya archaeologists, art historians, epigraphers, geologists, biologists and others. Dumbarton Oaks, Washington DC. http://www.doaks.org/museum
- “Dancing into Dreams: Maya Vases of the Ik’ Kingdom“: October 6, 2012 – February 17, 2013. Princeton University Art Museum. Dancing into Dreams: Maya Vases of the Ik’ Kingdom will offer an intimate glimpse at the exceptionally painted chocolate-drinking cups of a single Maya center located in modern-day Guatemala. Ik’ vases are acknowledged particularly for their naturalistic color, veristic portraiture, skillful rendition of graceful movement, and elegantly fluid, calligraphic line. Several Ik’ vases were also signed by their painters—a convention attested in the ancient Americas only among the Maya of this region. Complementing our important holdings of Ik’ vessels with loans of select masterpieces from other museum collections, the exhibition will both elucidate the courtly politics and dynastic history of the Ik’ kingdom and reveal the vital role of master artists in these intrigues.
Princeton University campus, a short walk from Nassau Street in downtown Princeton, New Jersey. Once on campus, simply follow the Museum banners on the lamp posts to the Museum. http://artmuseum.princeton.edu/exhibitions/upcoming/
- “The Heart of the Maya“: November 7, 2010-December 21, 2012. Hamburg Ethnological Museum. Thousands of Mayan culture objects whole have spent decades in the basement of the Ethnological Museum in Hamburg, several meters below the spacious rooms housing testimonies of the five continents. But starting tomorrow the public can enter the world of the pre-Columbian people through the heart of the Maya, one of the most comprehensive collections of today. “The first pieces of Mayan art from Hamburg arrived in Guatemala in 1878, years before the founding of this museum,” said Bernd Schmelz. “Already in 1828, many teachers and German merchants settled in Guatemala,” says scientific director of the institution. This contact was intensified by Franz Termer cultural level. During a research trip between 1925 and 1929, who later became the second director of the Hamburg museum began collecting not only archaeological items but also art objects and items that were part of the daily life of one of the villages fascinating humanity. http://www.voelkerkundemuseum.com/
- “Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian“: October 23, 2010–October 25, 2020. George Gustav Heye Center, New York. “Infinity of Nations,” opening Saturday, features 700 objects from South, Central and North America from ancient to modern times at the National Museum of the American Indian, New York. Its hemispheric approach “brings together the depth and range of Native American culture and history,” said Philip Deloria, a Native American historian who teaches at the University of Michigan. Contemporary nations often “set the parameters for thinking about indigenous people and so we often miss the richness, the connections, the overlaps and the distinctions among these people,” added Deloria, who wrote the introduction to the exhibition’s companion book. The museum worked with 60 native historians and leaders to interpret many of the objects, which were selected for their aesthetic, cultural and historic importance. The introductory wall panel tells visitors that “far from a vast and empty wilderness, by 1492 the Americas were home to societies ranging from loose federations of small hunting, fishing and farming villages to empires administered from great cities.” http://www.nmai.si.edu/subpage.cfmsubpage=exhibitions&second=ny&third=cu…
- “MAYA 2012: Lords of Time“: May 5, 2012 – January 12, 2013. Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology Exhibit. MAYA 2012 leads visitors on a journey through the Maya’s time-ordered universe, expressed through their intricate calendar systems, and the power weilded by their divine kings, the astounding “lords of time.” Visitors explore the Maya world through interactive experiences and walk among sculptures and full-sized replicas of major monuments. The exhibition features over 100 remarkable objects including artifacts recently excavated by Penn Museum archaeologists from the site of Copan, Honduras. Visitors follow the rise and fall of Copan, moving across the centuries to discover how Maya ideas about time and the calendar have changed up to the present day. Contemporary Maya speak to their own heritage and concerns for the future. MAYA 2012 uncovers a history and culture far richer and surprising than commonly supposed. http://www.penn.museum/upcoming-exhibits.html
Information courtesy Mike Ruggeri.