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Establishment of original Museum of the American Indian reaches centennial anniversary

George and Thea Heye with Wey-hu-si-wa (Zuni), governor of Zuni Pueblo at the time, and Lorenzo Chavez (Zuni) in front the Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation building in 1923. Wey-hu-si-wa and Chavez were brought to New York City so Chavez could receive an eye operation and save his sight. He was a close friend of the Heye family, having met during George Heye’s excavations at Zuni Pueblo between 1917–1923. The centennial anniversary of the founding of the Museum of the American Indian will be celebrated with a symposium and reception Saturday, Sept. 17, from 2 to 5:30 p.m. at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center in New York City. Photo: National Museum of the American Indian.

NEW YORK, NY.- The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian will celebrate the centennial anniversary of the founding of its predecessor institution, the Museum of the American Indian, with a symposium, “Vistas and Dreams,” on museums, collectors and collecting, and relationships with Native Americans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. A distinguished panel of scholars will explore how the stage was set for Museum of the American Indian founder George Gustav Heye’s personal collecting after 1897 and his establishment of a museum in New York City dedicated to Native peoples of the Americas in 1916.

The symposium will take place at the museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York City Saturday, Sept. 17, from 2 to 5:30 p.m. and will also feature a reception with light refreshments. Admission is free.

“For Heye, his collection existed as so much more than an aggregate of objects; it carried with it the very lifeblood—the ‘vistas and dreams,’ as he once put it—of the noble cultures it represented,” said Kevin Gover (Pawnee), director of the National Museum of the American Indian. “A century ago that notion led to the museum’s creation, and we now honor it by examining the historical background that allowed Heye to share this wonderful collection with the world.”

• How Indians Wound Up in Museums, or Where Did the Heye Collection Come From?
Steven Conn, Miami University

• Cultures of Collectors: The Relic-Hunting Economy in the American Southwest, 1880–1920
James E. Snead, California State University, Northridge

• “A New Dream Museum”: George Gustav Heye and the Museum of the American Indian
Ann McMullen, Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

• Salvaging Salvage Anthropology: Revisiting Frank Speck’s Field Collecting
Ruth B. Phillips, Carleton University

• Indians Loom Large: Indians and America at the Turn of the Century
Philip J. Deloria (Standing Rock Sioux), University of Michigan

The symposium’s moderator will be the museum’s founding Trustee Frederick Hoxie from the University of Illinois.

Abstracts for all presentations are available upon request. Scheduled speakers and presentations may be subject to change.

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