McClung Museum Opens Northwest Coast Art: A Community of Tradition September 8

UT’s McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture opens the new exhibition Northwest Coast Art: A Community of Tradition on September 8.

Spoon, early 1900s, artist unknown (Tlingit). Dall sheep horn, mountain goat horn, metal. Gift of Duncan A. White. 1949.4.203.

Spoon, early 1900s, artist unknown (Tlingit). Dall sheep horn, mountain goat horn, metal. Gift of Duncan A. White. 1949.4.203.

For hundreds of years Northwest Coast peoples have made art expressing their cultural norms and values. Using indigenous and non-native trade materials obtained in their homes along the coast of Oregon and north to Alaska, they mark an elaborate ceremonial life, social rank, and prestige through their objects and art.

Arranged by medium, the exhibition of more than 60 objects represents traditional and modern forms of cultural expression. From model totem poles, bentwood boxes, and baskets to spoons, prints, and bracelets, these objects preserve and perpetuate various tribes’ cultural heritage and community.

“It is exciting for me and a real treat for Knoxville to bring together in this exhibition the artistic works of Native Americans and First Nations people of the Northwest Coast,” said Gerald Schroedl, the exhibition curator and professor emeritus in UT’s Department of Anthropology. “An exhibition of Northwest Coast art is rare in the Southeast, and this is the first time many of these objects have been exhibited anywhere.”

Killer Whale Mask, 1990, Chief Walter Harris (Git’san and Tsimshian, 1931–2009). Wood, ermine fur, animal fur, paint. Anonymous lender.

Killer Whale Mask, 1990, Chief Walter Harris (Git’san and Tsimshian, 1931–2009). Wood, ermine fur, animal fur, paint. Anonymous lender.

The exhibit includes beaded textiles, painted hats, and carvings from the late 1800s as well as contemporary work, including various masks by Kwakwaka’wakw artist Richard Hunt, a 22-karat gold grizzly bear bracelet by Haida jeweler and carver Bill Reid, a wood and abalone shell dragonfly rattle by Nuu-chah-nulth artist Moy Sutherland, and a hat by well-known Haida weaver Isabel Rorick. Objects come from the McClung Museum’s permanent collections as well as the Bill Reid Gallery, the Florida Museum of Natural History, the Logan Museum of Anthropology, the Steinbrueck Native Gallery, and various private collectors.

Exhibition programming at the museum includes a variety of activities:

  • 6–7:30 p.m. September 12, “Listening for the Stories: Indigenous Sovereignties and Self-Representation in a Museum Space,” free talk by Lisa King, assistant professor in the Department of English.
  • 1–4 p.m. September 16, “Northwest Coast Art,” free Family Fun Day.
  • 10–11:30 a.m. September 18,  “Toddlers and Totems,” free stroller tour. Register online.
  • 1–4 p.m. November 11, “Celebrate Native American Heritage,” free Family Fun Day.

Northwest Coast Art: A Community of Tradition is presented by First Tennessee Foundation, Ready for the World, Aramark, Larry and Linda Raulston, and Sherry Kirkland Rayson. Additional support is provided by the City of Knoxville, Knox County, and the Arts and Heritage Fund.

The McClung Museum is located at 1327 Circle Park Drive. Museum admission is free, and the museum’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday and 1 to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Community and school groups may schedule tours by calling 865-974-2144 or emailing museum@utk.edu.

Free two-hour museum parking passes are available by request from the parking information booth at the entrance to Circle Park Drive on weekdays. Free parking is available on Circle Park Drive on a first-come, first-served basis on weekends. Free public transportation to the museum is also available via the Knoxville Trolley Vol Line. 

For more information about the McClung Museum and its collections and exhibits, visit the museum website.

CONTACT:

Catherine Shteynberg (865-974-6921, cshteynb@utk.edu)

Stacy Palado (865-974-2143, spalado@utk.edu)