Exhibitions/ The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky

The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky

This exhibition unites Plains Indian masterworks found in European and North American collections, from pre-contact to contemporary, ranging from a two-thousand-year-old human-effigy stone pipe to contemporary paintings, photographs, and a video-installation piece. Works of art collected centuries ago by French traders and travelers are seen together with those acquired by Lewis and Clark on their famous expedition of 1804–06, along with objects from the early reservation period and recent works created in dialogue with traditional forms and ideas.

The distinct Plains aesthetic—singular, ephemeral, and materially rich—are revealed through an array of forms and media: painting and drawing; sculptural works in stone, wood, antler, and shell; porcupine-quill and glass-bead embroidery; feather work; painted robes depicting figures and geometric shapes; richly ornamented clothing; composite works; and ceremonial objects. Many nations, including Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Lakota, Blackfeet, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, and Meskwaki are represented.

See blog posts related to the exhibition.


The exhibition is made possible by the Enterprise Holdings Endowment, an Anonymous Foundation, and the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund.

It was organized by the Musée du quai Branly, Paris, in collaboration with The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and in partnership with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City.

Image above: Robe with Mythic Bird, ca. 1700–40. Mid-Mississippi River Basin, probably Illinois Confederacy. Eastern Plains. Musée du quai Branly, Paris, France (71.1878.32.134). Images below: Blackbear Bosin (American, 1921–1980). Wind Spirit, ca. 1955. Oklahoma. Comanche-Kiowa. Philbrook Museum of Art, Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Nola Bosin Kimble Estate (1955.9). "More about the Exhibition" image below: Dana Claxton (Canadian, b. 1959). Rattle, 2003. Canada. Four-channel video. Dana Claxton and Winsor Gallery. "Exhibition Objects" image below: Maffet Ledger (detail), ca. 1884. Oklahoma. Cheyenne or Arapaho. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, The Michael C. Rockefeller Memorial Collection, Purchase, Nelson A. Rockefeller Gift, 1968 (1978.412.207). "Video" image below: Juanita Growing Thunder Fogarty (American, b. 1969). Horse Mask, 2008. California. Assiniboine-Sioux. National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C. (267046.000). "Audio Guide" image below: Shield with Guardian Spirit, ca. 1850. North Dakota. Arikara. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, Purchase: the Donald D. Jones Fund for American Indian Art (2004.35)