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"Infinity of Nations" at the National Museum of the American Indian

The downtown culture spot unearths the highlights of its permanent collection.

  • umuwam (Chief of the Undersea mask) at Museum of American Indian's exhibition "Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of American Indian"

  • The Tukanoan headring, with Macaw feathers, oropendola feathers, toucan feathers, wood splints, plant fiber, at Museum of American Indian's exhbition "Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of American Indian"

  • Kootenai baby carrier, made of wood, deer hide, wool, glass beads, silk, dentalium, conch shells, at the Museum of American Indian's exhbition "Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of American Indian"

  • Apsalooke warrior's exploit robe at the Museum of American Indian's exhbition "Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of American Indian"

umuwam (Chief of the Undersea mask) at Museum of American Indian's exhibition "Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of American Indian"

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What do a robe made of painted buffalo hide, a walrus mask sculpted from a hubcap and a stick-shaped calendar carved from a cactus have in common? They all belong to the enormous assortment of artwork that makes up "Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian," a new permanent exhibition opening October 23. The showcase will expand the museum's purview, presenting a longer and more diverse history of Native American artistry.

Before entering the show, kids can pick up an activity guide at the front desk that prompts them to seek out specific objects in the gallery. Once inside, children will see vibrant headdresses, each hailing from a different region of North, Central or South America. In the main room, ten more artifacts—including a water vessel from Peru and a hand drum depicting the cosmos—get the spotlight. Each item was selected to stand for a different geographical area, and will be displayed alongside video clips, drawings and photographs that flesh out the work's importance.

In the coming months, interactive, hands-on family programs will focus on a single region each week; Latin America kicks things off on October 9.

"Infinity of Nations" opens Oct 23 at NMAI.




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