As summer comes to a close, I hope you can squeeze in some time to visit museums in New York City or wherever you may reside. I have stumbled upon a few exhibits that have piqued my interest and I cannot wait to visit. Just like books, museums remind me of our connected interests and shared commonalities. The old adage, “We read to know we are not alone” is often attributed to C.S. Lewis. I feel the same way about museums, we visit culture and art to know we are intricately connected to others through time and place.
I recently visited the National Museum of American Indian in New York, which is part of the larger Smithsonian Museum. I absolutely love this museum. First things first, it’s free! It’s in an old beautiful customs building which serves as quite the juxtaposition to the art and artifacts housed in the museum. The museum is located at the southern tip of Manhattan so viewing the famous bronze bull, getting a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty, or swinging by Wall Street are all within a stone’s throw from the museum.
Until September 11, 2022 they have an exhibit entitled “Dakota Modern: The Art of Oscar Howe.” Breathtaking just doesn’t do the exhibit justice. Oscar Howe had several phases of his career, and the museum perfectly curates his various time periods where his style shifts and his focus on Native American modern art comes into clear focus. This museum provides such a service to the art world not just because of the price, but for the permanent exhibits of Native American art and artifacts as well as the other exhibits that are accessible for young and older museum goers.
The National Museum of American Indian also currently has an exhibit “Native New York” which they describe as a journey “through city and state to explore the question ‘What makes New York a Native place?’” The exhibition encompasses 12 places in present-day New York, introducing visitors to the Native nations that call the region home.” This exhibit shows contributions of Native communities, debunks myths about Native culture, and shows the areas in and around New York City where Native communities once thrived.
Be sure to visit the museum and the exhibits before they leave. For more information go to: www.americanindian.si.edu/visit/reopening-ny.
My next museum adventure will take me to the New Museum where I am excited to view “Art and Race Matters: The Career of Robert Colescott” featuring paintings which span his 60-year career. Colescott is best known for “works made during the 1970s in which he reimagined iconic artworks to examine the absence of Black men and women as protagonists in dominant cultural and social narratives.” I cannot wait to check this out. For more information go to: www.newmuseum.org.
Art is our connector, and always will be.
Christina Greer, Ph.D., is an associate professor at Fordham University, the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream,” and the co-host of the podcast FAQ-NYC.