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The Cincinnati Art Museum began acquiring Native American objects before it opened its doors in 1886 thanks to a handful of key donors who understood the importance of preserving objects made by our nation’s first inhabitants. In fact, many of the artifacts predate The Exposition of Indian Tribal Arts, the first exhibit of Native American Art held in New York City in 1931. The Exposition’s organizers included American artist John Sloan, anthropologist Oliver LaFarge and Amelia Elizabeth White, an activist and gallery owner. White championed native peoples’ rights and encouraged them to make artistic objects in the tradition of their ancestors. Her contribution of more than 130 objects, including some of the earliest Pueblo paintings, was significant in building the Museum’s collection. Holdings encompass notable examples of Pueblo pottery both traditional and contemporary, including works by Virgil Ortiz and Maria Martinez. In particular, the peoples of the Great Plains, Pueblos, Northwest Coast and Mesoamerica are represented by textiles, dress, and pottery.

These artworks are not on display currently, but the Cincinnati Art Museum is working towards a project to respectfully display these collections by working directly with Indigenous communities in ways that forefront and amplify Indigenous voices within the museum.

View Native American Art Collection

Featured Objects

white jar decorated with animals Water Jar (Olla)

Zuni (New Mexico, United States), 1885.48

black and white blanket with fringe Chilkat Ceremonial Dance Blanket

Chilkat (Alaska, United States), 1888.282

stone carving of a simple bird figure Birdstone

Prehistoric Woodlands (Ohio, United States), 1888.512

stone tablet with carvings Waverly Tablet

Adena (Ohio, United States), 1939.140

jar decorated with animal drawings on the lip Jar

Virgil Ortiz, 1994.247

sheep horn dish carved in the shape of a bird Ceremonial Oil Dish

Haida (Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, Canada), X1965.15