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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.

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Featured Objects

Water Jar (Olla)

Zuni (New Mexico, United States), 1885.48

Chilkat Ceremonial Dance Blanket

Chilkat (Alaska, United States), 1888.282


Prehistoric Woodlands (Ohio, United States), 1888.512

Waverly Tablet

Adena (Ohio, United States), 1939.140


Virgil Ortiz, 1994.247

Ceremonial Oil Dish

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