Museum receives major donation of Native American art
San Francisco - The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco will be showcasing a large collection of Native American art beginning May 3rd thanks to a gift of approximately 200 objects and a large endowment from Thomas W. Weisel, a local financier.
he first showing, which will include roughly one-third of the gift, is titled “Lines on the Horizon: Native American Art from the Weisel Family Collection.” The exhibit will include art produced by various tribes of the Southwestern US. It features weavings of the Navajo tribe, 11th-century Mimbres ceramics, as well as contemporary pieces by recognized Native artists.
Some of the objects in Weisel’s gift from the Northwest Coast and the Plains will go on permanent display.
Colin B. Bailey, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco said
We at the Museums are so grateful to Mr. Weisel and his family for selecting our institution as the destination for a collection of such significance. It is a transformative gift of art, of an unparalleled depth and scope. Additionally, the endowment will enhance our capacity to study these objects from a variety of perspectives and to develop educational and scholarly programs around the collection. We look forward to sharing these objects and the research they will generate with our visitors and with specialists in the field.
The monetary value of the gift was not publicly disclosed, however Weisel’s less expansive abstract art collection brought $33 million at auction in 2002.
The two first-phase Navajo blankets that were part of the donation are from the early to mid-1800s, and fewer than 100 examples of the blankets are known to be in existence worldwide.
Weisel’s collection makes available to the public many items that would traditionally sit in a private collection. As state and federal agencies tighten the regulations and enforcement of trading in Native American artifacts, many collectors have become reluctant to show or discuss their collections.
A museum in Montana has just received portions of its collection back after federal authorities seized native items in 2005. No charges resulted from the investigation or seizures, though some of the items were determined to have been stolen. The museum was not implicated in the thefts and agreed to allow those items to be returned to the original owners.