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September 19, 2014–January 11, 2015

This groundbreaking exhibition will unite the Plains Indian masterworks found in European and North American collections, from pre-contact to contemporary, ranging from a 2,000-year-old Human Effigy stone pipe to 18th-century painted robes to a 2011 beaded adaptation of designer shoes.

The distinct Plains aesthetic—singular, ephemeral and materially rich—will be revealed through an array of forms and media: painting and drawing; sculptural works in stone, wood, antler and shell; porcupine quill and glass bead embroidery; feather work; painted robes depicting figures and geometric shapes; richly ornamented clothing; composite works; and ceremonial objects.

Together the 140 works will reveal the accomplishments of Plains Indian artists, not only as the makers of objects that sustain tradition and embody change, but as the bearers of individual creative expression and innovation. Many nations are represented—Osage, Quapaw, Omaha, Crow, Cheyenne, Arapaho, Lakota, Blackfeet, Pawnee, Kiowa, Comanche, Mesquakie, Kansa and others. Objects will travel from France, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Canada and the United States.

Members: FREE

Adults: $12
Seniors over 55: $10
Students with ID: $8
Children 12 & under: FREE

Morton and Estelle Sosland
Honored By Mayor Sly James

Couple's Long Support of Native American Art Prompts Mayoral Proclamation

Kansas City Mayor Sly James has proclaimed Friday, Sept. 19, 2014, as "Morton and Estelle Sosland Day" in honor of the couple's legacy as champions of American Indian art.The proclamation noted that the Soslands "are widely respected champions of American Indian art and discerning collectors in the field."

Mr. Sosland also has been "an invaluable supporter and advisor" for the exhibition, the proclamation said, and Mr. and Mrs. Sosland played a central role in visioning and creating the Native American galleries that opened at the Nelson-Atkins in November 2009.

Learn More

Click Here for a bibliography of resources about the Plains Indians and be sure to visit the Spencer Art Research Library to explore even more.

The Tipis Have Arrived!

Photo by Leslie R Adams

To help announce The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art is setting up tipis on the south lawn of the museum and in unexpected places in the city. The intent is to share the historical importance and innovative qualities of this perfect form of architecture.

The tipis at the Nelson-Atkins are open to visitors from dawn to dusk, and food and drink are allowed inside. The museum asks that there be no climbing or other activity that might compromise the integrity of the structure.


Interact with Native American artists during these special workshops. Pre-registration is required.

Member Discounts: Friends of Art 20%, Society of Fellows 30%

Ages 8-12 with adult
Friday, October 17
6:30–8:30 p.m. | $30 per adult-child pair

Join Black Pinto Horse, also known as Monte Yellow Bird, Sr., to create a Ledger Drawing. This process involves identifying what you "own" and assigning a value to the most essential parts of your life.

Ages 6-12 with adult
The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky
Friday, November 14
6:30–8:30 p.m. | $30 per adult-child pair

Create nature symbols in clay and learn about the importance of nature in the Osage belief system with Anita Fields, a member of the Osage Nation. Participants will leave their clay projects to be fired. Clay pieces will be ready for pick-up on December 13.

Ages 6-12 with adult
Friday, November 21
6:30–8:30 p.m. | $30 per adult-child pair

Chandler Good Strike leads this workshop on the history of hide paintings in Plains Indian culture and will guide participants through the process of creating their own hide painting.

Gauntlets, Sioux-Métis artist, North or South Dakota, ca. 1890. Native tanned leather, glass and brass beads, cotton cloth, 14 1/2 x 8 inches each. Hirschfield Family Collection, Courtesy of Berte and Alan Hirschfield.

Nellie Two Bear Gates, (Mahpiya Bogawin, Gathering of Clouds Woman), 1854-?, Lakota (Teton Sioux), Standing Rock Reservation, North or South Dakota. Valise, 1903. Commercial and native tanned leather, glass beads, metal, 9 1/2 x 15 inches. Hirschfield Family Collection, Courtesy of Berte and Alan Hirschfield.

T.C. Cannon (Pai-doung-u-day, One Who Stands in the Sun), 1946-1978, Caddo-Kiowa, Oklahoma. Grandmother Gestating Father and the Washita River Runs Ribbon-Like, 1975. Canvas, oil, acrylic, 50 1/2 x 40 3/4 inches. Collection of Nancy and Richard Bloch.

Shield, Arikara artist, North Dakota, ca. 1850. Buffalo rawhide, native tanned leather, pigment, Diameter: 20 inches. The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Purchase: the Donald D. Jones Fund for American Indian Art, 2004.35.

Robe, Central Plains artists, ca. 1800-1830. Native tanned leather, pigment, porcupine quills, 58 3/8 x 88 1/4 inches. musée du quai Branly, 71.1886.17.1.

Contemporary Artists Represented In the Exhibition

Exhibition Tour Dates

The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky will be on view exclusively at the Nelson-Atkins and these additional venues:

musée du quai Branly
April 7–July 20, 2014

New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art
March 2–May 10, 2015

Exhibition Publication

Plains Indian The Plains Indians:
Artists of Earth and Sky

Available in the Museum Store | $65

Public Programs

Special Presentation
Reflections on a Groundbreaking Exhibition
Sunday, January 11, 2015
5 p.m. | $5

Curator Gaylord Torrence will reflect on discoveries and insights gained during The Plains Indians time in Paris and Kansas City before its finale in New York City.

Exhibition Opening Celebration
An Afternoon of Native American Art, Dance and Song
Sunday, September 21
Noon–4 p.m. | FREE

Enjoy performances by Haskell Indian Nations University, award-winning Royal Valley Dancers and Native Pride Dancers, hands-on activities and demonstrations by artists to celebrate the opening of The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky.

Artists' Panel
Plains Indians Art Today
Saturday, October 4
2–3 p.m. | Atkins Auditorium | $5

Four contemporary Native American artists featured in The Plains Indians exhibition, Jamie Okuma, Rhonda Holy Bear, Bently Spang and Kevin Pourier, join curator Gaylord Torrence in a lively conversation.

Friday Night Films
Plains Indians' Perspectives
Atkins Auditorium | FREE

Experience a series of films that capture the voice and unconquerable spirit of the Plains Indian people as they reflect on their culture and history from the past to the present. Introductions and short films precede each screening.

October 10
The Daughter of Dawn
6:30 p.m. | Free

Kansas City premiere of a unique film featuring an all-Indian cast, recently restored and inducted into the Library of Congress' 2013 National Film Registry. Directed by Norbert Niles, 1920. 80 minutes. Silent film.

October 17
Reel Injun
6:30 p.m. | Free

Documentary that looks at the Hollywood Indian through a century of cinema and how the myth of "the Injun" has influenced the world's (mis)understanding of Natives. Directed by Cree filmmaker Neil Diamond, 2009. 85 minutes.

October 24
We Were Children
6:30 p.m. | Free

Docudrama about the experiences and impact of the Canadian government's residential school system through the eyes of two First Nations children who were forced to face hardships beyond their years. Directed by Tim Wolochatiuk, 2013. 88 minutes.

Panel Discussion
Everything We Know About the Art of Plains Indians
Sunday, October 19
1–3 p.m. | Atkins Auditorium | $5

A group of international scholars, along with curator Gaylord Torrence, will share new insights garnered from The Plains Indians exhibition.

Exhibition Tours
(September 19, 2014–January 11, 2015)
Exhibition ticket required. Drop-in tours 1 p.m. Wednesday–Friday.

Museum guides available for questions and meaningful conversation.
6–8:15 p.m., Thursday and Friday
1–4 p.m., Saturday and Sunday

Speakers Bureau
Interested in a brief, sneak-peek presentation of The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth & Sky for your local business or organization?
Visit Speakers Bureau for details!

The exhibition is being organized by Museé du quai Branly in Paris in collaboration with The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, and The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It is curated by Gaylord Torrence, one of the nation's leading scholars of Plains Indian art and the Fred and Virginia Merrill Senior Curator of American Indian Art at the Nelson-Atkins.

In Kansas City, the exhibition is supported by The Sosland Family, Fred and Virginia Merrill, Alan and Berte Hirschfield, James and Elizabeth Tinsman, John and Kay Callison, Mick and Kathy Aslin, Henry W. Bloch, Donald J. Hall, Rex and Pat Lucke, Landon and Sarah Rowland, the Barton P. and Mary D. Cohen Charitable Trust, the Committee of 100, the Donald J. Hall Initiative and our Honorary Committee. Additional support has been provided by the National Endowment for the Arts.

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