Mitchell Museum to unveil ‘New Treasures’

Jemez and Acoma Pueblo Pottery at the Mitchell Museum in Evanston, Illinois

The Mitchell Museum of the American Indian in Evanston will unveil noteworthy new additions to its permanent collection in an exhibit opening this month.

“New Treasures of Our Collection,” an exhibit of 45 recent acquisitions on display at the Mitchell Museum for the first time, will open on Saturday, Dec. 15, and will run through Sunday, Sept. 8, at the museum, 3001 Central St.

Exhibit developer Saul Sopoci Drake will lead a tour of the new exhibit at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec 15.

The exhibit showcases “interesting, visually striking, and culturally relevant pieces” from among recently donated items, according to museum officials.

Among rare and unusual items are an 18th-century copper crown, fashioned by an Algonquin Indian craftsman for trade purposes; a 20th-century Inuit stone carving depicting seasonal scenes; and a western Canadian moose hair tufting, a colorful, three-dimensional floral design sewed with small bundles of dyed moose hair by Cree artist Helen Jakesta.

Visitors will see a watercolor of Crow Indian warriors by contemporary Crow painter Kevin Red Star, the first work by that celebrated artist in the Mitchell’s collection.

Another well-known contemporary artist, Barbara Gonzales of the San Ildefonso Pueblo, is represented by her distinctive black pottery with inlaid turquoise stones.

The exhibit also offers basketry, beadwork, katsina dolls, miniature metal pots, and a child’s woolen coat from the Cree culture of the Canadian Arctic. Some exhibit items reflect popular culture, including a Native-themed skateboard, Indian reservation postcards, and a bingo-card stamper.

A tabletop digital slide show will take visitors behind the scenes for a virtual tour of non-public areas of the Mitchell where the permanent collection of some 10,000 items are catalogued, preserved, and stored for future exhibits.

While focusing on new acquisitions, the exhibit also includes a companion display about the Mitchell’s education collection, which consists of materials that can be handled by the public in the museum’s exhibits, used for off-site demonstrations and presentations by museum representatives, and loaned to teachers for classroom use.  Visitors will be able to touch examples of Native beadwork and a Navajo doll.

Admission to the exhibit and curator tour is included with Mitchell Museum admission, which is $5 for adults and $3 for seniors, students, teachers (with valid school ID), and children. Admission is free for Mitchell Museum members and tribal members. Admission is free to everyone on the first Friday of every month. The independent nonprofit museum is at 3001 Central St., Evanston. For information, phone (847) 475-1030 or email [email protected] Website: http://www.mitchellmuseum.org.

The Mitchell’s 2011-12 exhibit “Deconstructing Stereotypes: Top Ten Truths” was a national finalist for an American Association of State and Local History 2012 Leadership in History Award. The Mitchell is the only non-Native run organization on the steering committee of the Chicago American Indian Community Planning Initiative.

The museum is partially supported by a grant from the Evanston Arts Council, a city agency supported by the City of Evanston, and the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

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