Heard Museum is center of native culture and art

One of the best-kept non-secrets in the field of native cultures and art is located in Phoenix, Arizona – the Heard Museum.

Founded in 1929 by Dwight and Maie Bartlett Heard as a small museum in the then-small town, the Heard has grown to the point it is recognized internationally for its collections of cultural and fine art. Today the Heard boasts approximately 39,000 works in its collection that serves as a resource for learning about the cultural heritage of native peoples.

The Heard Museum maintains an emphasis on the cultures of the Southwest, but also includes American Indian fine art in the form of drawings, paintings and sculpture from throughout North America.

Juliet Martin, the Heard’s director of marketing communications, said key collections areas include textiles, katsina dolls, pottery, jewelry, baskets, cradleboards, paintings, sculpture and world cultures materials.

“The Heard also is known for its major festivals,” Martin noted.

These include the Navajo Textile Marketplace that draws around 60 weavers who display their work and give weaving, dyeing and spinning demonstrations, as well as expert presentations in November; the Katsina Doll Marketplace in March that draws 100 dollar carvers every April; the Indian Fair Market in March that features 650 artists (second in size only to the Santa Fe Indian Market); and the Ornaments and Adornments festivals at Heard’s Scottsdale location that feature the work of jewelers, potters and basket weavers.

But it’s the continuing and changing exhibitions at the Heard’s main location in Phoenix — and its satellites in Scottsdale and Surprise — that draw year-round attention.

“Our ongoing exhibitions include Home and Native People of the Southwest, Remembering Indian School Days, We Are Arizona’s First People and Every Picture Tells a Story,” Martin said. “For our changing exhibits, we feature between three and five a year.”

Martin said the current rotating exhibits include Mothers’ and Daughters’ Stories in Clay, that includes works from three acclaimed mother-daughter teams from the Santa Clara Pueblo in New Mexico; and Underworlderness, an exhibit of black and white drawings and charcoals by Tony Abeyta, including a mural done on a wall of the exhibit gallery.

The Heard Museum has continually expanded, two years ago opening the Berlin Gallery at the Phoenix location, an expansion of the gift shop and a showcase of contemporary American Indian art representing 20 artists connected to the museum, from master artists to newcomers.

Heard Museum North originally opened in 1996 at the Boulders Resort and in 2007 moved a mile south to the Summit at Scottsdale into a freestanding building that features two exhibit galleries, a shop and café, and a sculpture and native plants garden.

Heard Museum West opened in 2005 in Surprise and features the ongoing exhibition, Our Stories — American Indian Art and Culture in Arizona, as well as a changing gallery, currently, Animals and Arctic Art.

“We like to think of the Heard as a place that celebrates American Indian cultures of today and strives to enlighten visitors about the dynamic things that today’s artists are doing,” Martin said. “We offer lots of programming for families and children too, as well as continuing education opportunities for adults.”

For more information about the Heard Museum, call 602-252-8848 or visit www.heard.org.

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