The Daniel Yohannes Family African Gallery houses the African Collection, made of up more than 1,000 pieces of contemporary and historic art. The gallery includes rare works of sculpture, textiles, jewelry, painting, print-making and drawing. The focus is on West African art, particularly that of the Yoruba people of Nigeria and Benin. Many of the more famous works are by Olowe of Ise (1895-1938), a master of wood sculpting who lived in a region that is in present-day Nigeria.
The museum has been careful to balance art by male Africans with that of female African artists, and seeks to explore questions of gender, rituals and the importance of group creativity in African art. In addition to visual arts, the museum also gives patrons an opportunity to view African performance art such as music and dancing.
The American Indian Collection houses works of almost every Native tribe in the United States and Canada. From the prehistoric to the present, and in diverse artistic formats, the museum displays the vibrant and continuing traditions of Native Indian art. The first museum in North America to collect Indian art, the Denver Art Museum began its collection in the 1920s, and now owns over 20,000 art objects.
The most extensive part of the American Indian Collection is that of the Plains and Plateau Indians, who are represented by six full-sized tipis, drawings, weapons, beading, horse trappings, belts, blankets, headdresses, shirts, dresses and footwear. The Southwest Indian Collection has pottery, basketry and jewelry from more than twenty-five tribes. Of particular interest are kachina dolls of the Hopi tribe, which are figural representations of spirits used in twice-yearly Hopi rituals.
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The Arctic Indian collection contains archeological and contemporary Inuit art, mainly woodblock and stone cut prints of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The Northwest Coastal Indians are exemplified by wood and bone carvings of the Tlingit, Haida, Nuxalk and Kwakwaka’wakw people. This collection also includes full-sized totem poles, ceremonial items and decorated utilitarian objects such as ornate dug-out canoes. The Southeast Indian collection puts its main emphasis on the Seminole people, particularly the patchwork clothing typical of the tribe. The collection also puts a spotlight on the mid-20th century revival of basketry among the Cherokee and Choctaw people, and has some historical objects from this region, including beaded bandolier bags of the early 19th century.
The Architecture, Design, and Graphics gallery contains objects dating from the Middle Ages to the 1900s, and represents all major design developments during that span of time across Europe and North America. Some of the highlights of the collection are a collection of Georgian silver, architectural drawings by Frank Lloyd Wright, more than eight hundred rock and roll posters from the psychedelic era and original screen prints by Japanese architect Arata Isozaki. Significant works by innovative Colorado designers are also featured in the gallery.
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