Museum Musings: Heard Museum

This is an example of future posts on my other new blog. I hope to use it as sort of an online curated diary, or some other pretentious sounding thing.

Last month I went to the Heard Museum with my boyfriend and I got a few snapshots here and there of pieces that really interested me. Looking back on those photos the other day made me remember the distressing reality that really hit me in the face once I stepped into the museum and started looking around.

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“Indigenous Evolution” by Rosemary Lonewolf & Tony Jojola

Sure, in school we learn about the smallpox blankets, the “real” story of Pocahontas, and maybe a little but about reservations but I feel like NativeΒ history is glossed over in high school. (I haven’t studied it past then). What this country has done to generations of Native peoples is just abhorrent and I think everyone needs to go to a museum like this. It was eye-opening; it’s quite hard to ignore their stories when you’re seeing such humanizing artifacts right in front of you. Just learning about it in school isn’t enough, it’s such a sterile and disconnected way. I’m not going to claim to know much about Native history, it’s not my history or culture to share. Please let me know if anything I say comes off as disrespectful or ill-educated.

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Cradleboards from as early as the late 19th century.

It’s the same feeling you get when you visit any other museum and you look at all these things, like teacups or clothing, and you realize that all those items belonged to real people who lead real lives, no different than you or me.

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My favorite of the cradleboards.

I have quite the affinity for beading and this one had such beautiful beaded flowers on, with a fluffy ruffled canopy. I loved the colors and the handiwork, and thought about the love that someone must have put into making it.

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A fur-lined baby bonnet.

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A second photo because I noticed my reflection in the background and I thought it an interesting juxtaposition.

What hit me really hard was going through the school life exhibit. Walking through mockups of dorm rooms and classrooms while hearing different individual accounts of what it was like having to leave home just to get an education that stripped them of their culture, just made me so overwhelmingly sad. I know, I know, there are better describing words than sad, it’s just what I really felt in the moment. It was a harrowing experience. I never knew kids had to leave their families and go live in boarding schools, scrub floors, and receive punishment for speaking their native languages, just to get a high school education. I walked out of that exhibit dazed and with a heart full of sorrow.

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#513 Untitled by Emmi Whitehorse

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Further details if you’re curious, as I was.

My favorite part of museums is browsing through artwork. I don’t know too much about actual art techniques, as I’m only studying art history, but I know what I like. I stared at this so long, I wanted to bring it home with me and mount it on my bedroom wall. Normally abstract art is pretty lost on me, but looking at the feathers and leaves I felt such longing. I was magnetically drawn to it, lost in the vivid pastel tones.

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Unfortunately I didn’t grab the information for this painting.

This painting really drew in my boyfriend, he sat there for almost 10 minutes just staring at it in awe. He loved the complexity of the color palette and the format of the 4 quadrants. He felt it was like fire.

I just wanted to share a little bit of my museum visit. I think this might turn into a seriesΒ later on, hopefully not as serious as this first one. What museums have you been to lately? Let me know how museums make you feel in the comments below!

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