From the Land of the Totem Poles: The Northwest Coast Indian Art Collection at the American Museum of Natural History

Aldona Jonaitis, Author, American Museum of Natural History, Author, Stephen S. Myers, Photographer Museum $40 (269p) ISBN 978-0-295-96572-7
As the Northwest Coast Indian tribes fell victim to extermination and exploitation by white settlers, as well as to smallpox, venereal disease and alcoholism, acquisitive collectors and anthropologists rushed to British Columbia and Alaska, starting around 1880, to preserve the artistic remnants of a rapidly vanishing culture. Written by an art historian at State University of New York, this album focuses on how the American Museum of Natural History built its extensive Northwest Indian collection. The star performer is anthropologist Franz Boas, who challenged the negative stereotyping of Amerindians and championed their art. Boas attacked museum exhibitions that robbed native pieces of their social-cultural context, which, ironically, is a shortcoming to which this volume ultimately succumbs. For example, the text has a few brief, scattered references to totem poles. Among the first 200 first-rate illustrations are shamans' masks and charms as well as canoes and household objects made with rare artistry. (July)
Reviewed on: 03/01/1988
Release date: 03/01/1988
Paperback - 269 pages - 978-0-295-97022-6
Paperback - 269 pages - 978-0-295-70671-9
Hardcover - 269 pages - 978-0-295-70653-5
Hardcover - 269 pages - 978-0-295-70652-8
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