Explore a Theme
The featured artworks in each collection area have been gathered into theme-based groupings by the museum’s curators. Within each Theme you will have access to interpretive texts and additional resources including video and audio clips, articles and artist biographies.
War and peace:
Explorations of conflict and resolution
Over millennia, Native Americans have navigated many difficult social and political conflicts. These histories are revealed in their artwork relating to autonomy, access to land, language, and religion.
Sense of style:
Art and identity through fashion
The items of personal adornment on this pathway were created to enhance beauty, show status, and indicate cultural identity.
On the move:
Representations of travel
Artworks on this pathway are markers of the movement of Native people, used in navigating, transporting, migrating, travel, trade, or warfare.
Engagement with religious and spiritual life
Native people have many ways of understanding and experiencing the world, made manifest through diverse expressions of worldview, beliefs, cosmology, and ritual.
Inspired by Nature:
Interpretations of the natural world
Since its beginnings, Native artists have expressed their affinities to the natural world through their selection of materials, references to the seasons and resources, and use of bold animal imagery.
Aesthetics of trade and commerce
In buying, trade, or gift economies, Native artists produce works that sometimes reflect aesthetic preferences of an outside market, whether within Native communities or between Native and other buyers.
Expressions of family and community values
These artworks show how individuals relate to their ancestral communities, through complex expressions of identity, family and tribe.
Food for Thought:
The art of food
These works explore the practical and symbolic dimensions of the making, eating and celebrating of food and drink.
Connections reflected in artistic expression
Native artistic expression has always reflected exposure to new ideas, materials, technologies, and cultures.
Choices that form a visual vocabulary
In this theme, the Native artist's creativity is celebrated through the vibrant patterns and compositions used across generations and geography.
Portraiture across cultures
These paintings, sculptures and photographs explore Native expressions of self and others through portraiture.