The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky

September 19, 2014 - January 11, 2015

Location: Bloch Building, Galleries L13 and L14

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.

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

Learn More
Download a bibliography of resources about the Plains Indians and be sure to visit the Spencer Art Research Library to explore even more.


Joseph No Two Horns (He Nupa Wanica), 1852–1942, Hunkpapa Lakota (Teton Sioux) artist, Standing Rock Reservation, North or South Dakota. Horse Effigy, ca. 1880. Wood (possibly cottonwood), pigment, commercial and native tanned leather, rawhide, horsehair, brass, iron, bird quill, Length: 38 1/2 inches. Courtesy of the South Dakota State Historical Society, 1974.002.122.

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.

Contemporary Artists Represented in the Exhibition