In 2017, the Muskegon Museum of Art will present Edward S. Curtis: The North American Indian, an event of national significance celebrating the artistic genius and lasting cultural legacy of Edward Curtis, an early-1900s photographer who sacrificed everything for his art, died in obscurity, but left behind one of the greatest artistic collaborations and photographic achievements in history. The exhibition will run May 11 through September 10, 2017.
Curtis’s images have been extensively exhibited and collected, and have become iconic over the past century. Organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art, this exhibition will be the largest and most comprehensive survey ever presented of Edward S. Curtis’s masterpiece. For what is believed to be the first time, the entire collection of all 723 portfolio photographs will be on display. In addition to the photographs, the exhibition will include all 20 bound volumes, the original field recordings of Native music, historic objects from Curtis’s life and work, and examples of cultural artifacts represented in the photographs.
A wide-ranging schedule of special programs, including events organized by other museums and cultural organizations throughout the area, will accompany the exhibition.
- Adults: $10
- Students 17 & over, with I.D.: $7
- Children 16 & under: Free
- Muskegon Museum of Art Members: Free
Learn how to become a member!
- Group Rates are available (20 people or more at $8 per person). Call 231.720.2571 or email Kelli (email@example.com) to make group purchases and arrangements.
Buy Tickets Online
View All 723 Photogravures
The Muskegon Museum of Art presents Edward S. Curtis: The North American Indian, an exhibition of national significance that explores the depth, breadth, and lasting cultural legacy of Edward Curtis’s monumental work. The exhibition, both survey and critique, tells the story of one of the most prominent photographers of his time, who sacrificed everything for his work on The North American Indian, only to die in obscurity.
Curtis’s images have been extensively exhibited and collected, and have become iconic over the past century. Organized by the Muskegon Museum of Art, this exhibition will be perhaps the largest and most comprehensive survey ever presented of The North American Indian. For what may be the first time, the entire collection of all 723 portfolio photographs will be on display. Importantly, this thorough survey and overview of The North American Indian also examines the challenges and controversies that the work has faced through the years, and in our own time.
The North American Indian is recognized as the largest artistic collaboration and photographic achievement in history. Edward S. Curtis’s portraits of Native Americans and their mores and rich culture are the result of his decades-long determined and desperate quest to document what he believed was a “vanishing race.” Ultimately, Curtis lost his health, marriage, and prosperity, dying penniless, but his work influenced the way an entire nation viewed the indigenous peoples of North America. The exhibition offers a critical assessment of this work’s meaning today.
Curtis’s masterpiece consists of twenty volumes of extraordinary ethnographic research — completed by an amateur anthropologist with little formal schooling. Each volume, when delivered, was accompanied by a portfolio of photogravures — fine art intaglio-printed photographs. Ultimately, Curtis published approximately 222 complete sets. The MMA owns set #70, acquired by subscription from 1908 to 1930 and hand-signed by one of Curtis’s most famous patrons, President Theodore Roosevelt.
Curtis’s work documents the complex, diverse cultures of 117 named Native American tribes, clans, and groups, people who still exist today despite a half millennia of innumerable obstacles. Over a span of thirty years, it is estimated that more than 10,000 Native Americans participated in Curtis’s massive endeavor, which also included audio recordings and a feature film, in addition to the book and portfolio project.
In addition to the 723 photogravures, the exhibition will include all the bound volumes, original field recordings of early nineteenth-century Native music, historic images of Curtis’s life and times, and examples of Native cultural artifacts represented in the photogravures.
Edward S. Curtis: The North American Indian will open at the Muskegon Museum of Art on May 11, 2017, and runs through September 10, 2017. The Museum has committed over 80% of its gallery space for four months to this exclusive and inclusive exhibition. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to experience first-hand the enormous depth and breadth of Edward Curtis’s vision and scholarship and to consider how Curtis’s work has strongly and irrevocably influenced our view of Native American culture over the past century.
A diverse array of public programming in collaboration with area cultural partners, including the Little River Band of Ottawa Indians, will accompany the exhibition.
Major Cultural Partners
The Lakeshore Museum Center is featuring some of its permanent collection of Native American artifacts in partnership with the Muskegon Museum of Art’s exhibit, Edward S. Curtis: The North American Indian.
Additional Art & Cultural Partners
Friends of Art-MMA
Hackley Public Library
Lakeshore Art Festival
Loutit District Library
Michigan’s Heritage Park
Muskegon Area District Library
Muskegon Heritage Museum
Muskegon South Pierhead Light
Spring Lake District Library
The Book Nook & Java Shop
USS LST393 Veterans’ Museum
USS Silversides Submarine Museum
White Lake Community Library
Dr. Fred & Deborah Brown
Community Foundation for Muskegon County
Hooker DeJong, Inc.
Jan & Chris Deur
Frank & Susan Bednarek
Paul C. Johnson Foundation
Jon & Jane Blyth
Orville & Susan Crain
The Verplank Donor Advised Fund of the Grand Haven Area Community Foundation
Little River Band of Ottawa Indians
The John Max Busard & Elizabeth Busard Fund in Memory of Dr. & Mrs. R.I. Busard of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County
Dr. Don & Nancy Crandall
Sytsema Funeral & Cremation Services
Allen & Anne Dake
Anonymous Fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County
Eugene & Karen Fethke
The Mark & Rosemary Lambert’s Dream Fund of the Community Foundation for Muskegon County
Additional support provided by FineLine Creative, Inc. and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs with the National Endowment for the Arts
For underwriting opportunities, contact Kirk Hallman at khallman.mpsk12.net.