Blue Star Museums Blog (Archive)

What's On View at the Heard Museum?

Phoenix, Arizona

Entrance of the Heard Museum. Photo courtesy of the Heard Museum

Today we're visiting the Heard Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, which showcases the art and culture of American Indians. Founded in 1929 as a small, local museum, the Heard has since grown into an international destination with over 40,000 objects in its collection. Let's take a look at what you might find this summer at the Heard.

Bear necklace, earrings and buckle (2004) and Monument Valley buckle (2009) by Jesse Monongye. Turquoise, coral, opal, lapis lazuli, dolomite, jet, shell, diamond, 18-karat gold. Private collection. Photo courtesy of the Heard Museum

One current exhibit is Jesse Monongye: Opal Bears and Lapis Skies, on view through June 26th. The exhibit features 150 pieces from Navajo master jeweler Jesse Monongye, who melds contemporary techniques with traditional Navajo symbols and motifs. As you can see in the photo above, his pieces are exquisitely beautiful. However, it's their technical detail that makes them museum-worthy. Monongye, who is best-known for his inlaid bears, is exceptionally skilled at working with "difficult" stones such as opal, which is prone to shattering under pressure. In the top piece, you'll see how he uses slivers of stone to illustrate a canyon in the night sky. Pretty spectacular, isn't it?

San Carlos Apache by Arlene Kast. Doll (1991). Cotton material, wood, ric rac, yarn, glass beads, leather. Bequest of Eleanor Libby. 4163-29

Later in the summer, the museum will mount More Than Child's Play: American Indian Dolls. On view from July 9th through October 16th, the exhibit will feature more than 80 Native dolls from a variety of time periods, tribes, and regions. Some dolls are art objects, others were created as playthings, and still others were used as teaching tools or as effigies of spirits. An exhibit that even the youngest of children can relate to, More Than Child's Play illustrates cultural differences while simultaneously showing the universality of play.

The Yellowhouse Indian Dancers, led by Lane Jensen (Navajo/Maricopa) are featured performers during Summer Sundays at the Heard in July. Photo courtesy of the Heard Museum

Of course, the Heard isn't just about visual art. The museum also offers regular dance performances, storytelling, lectures, scavenger hunts, movies, and more. Make sure to check the museum's calendar before your visit to see if you can catch an upcoming special event.

Still want more? The Heard's permanent and ongoing exhibits are vast and varied, and include 20th century American Indian paintings, cultural items from the Southwest's Native peoples, and a powerful exploration of a federal program that attempted to "civilize" American Indians through forced attendance of boarding schools.

Heard Museum
2301 N. Central Avenue
Phoenix, Arizona 85004

Learn more about the Blue Star Museums program and find other participating museums here.

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