Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian


Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian

Infobox nrhp
name = Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian
nrhp_type =


caption =
location = 704 Camino Lejo
Santa Fe, New Mexico
nearest_city =
lat_degrees =
lat_minutes =
lat_seconds =
lat_direction =
long_degrees =
long_minutes =
long_seconds =
long_direction =
area =
built =
architect = William Penhallow Henderson
architecture =
added =December 18, 1990
visitation_num =
visitation_year =
refnum =90001917
mpsub =
governing_body =
The Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian is a museum devoted to Native American arts. It is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico and was founded in 1937 by Mary Cabot Wheelwright who came from Boston and Hastiin Klah, an esteemed and influential Navajo singer, or “medicine man.”

Wheelwright and Klah were introduced in 1921 and quickly became close friends. It was not long before they determined to create a permanent record of Klah’s and other singers’ ritual knowledge. Klah dictated and Wheelwright recorded the Navajo Creation Story and other great narratives that form the basis of Navajo religion. While Wheelwright concentrated on the spoken word in Navajo ritual, Frances (“Franc”) Newcomb focused on the sandpaintings that are created and destroyed during healing ceremonies, recreating versions of them in tempera on paper. Klah participated in yet another way: he was a weaver, and his huge tapestries were also permanent records of sandpaintings.

By the early 1930s it was clear to Wheelwright and Klah that a museum would be necessary to realize their goals. It could not be simply a repository for the sound recordings, manuscripts, paintings, and sandpainting tapestries. It had to offer the public an opportunity to sense the beauty, dignity, and profound logic of Navajo religion. Their chosen architect, William Penhallow Henderson, based his design on the hooghan (the hogan), the traditional Navajo home and the setting for Navajo ceremonies. Klah blessed the ground on which the museum is built but died a few months before it was completed. A traditional Navajo house blessing was conducted by the singer Big Man in November 1937; and many of Klah’s relatives attended. The museum’s earliest names were the Navajo House of Prayer and the House of Navajo Religion, but, soon after it opened to the public, its name officially became the Museum of Navajo Ceremonial Art.

In the 1960s and 1970s the Navajo Nation exerted its independence through a number of sweeping changes, including the establishment of its own community college system. Also at that time Navajo singers founded the Navajo Medicine Men’s Association. The teachings of traditional Navajo religion enjoyed a revival, and its practitioners began to express their concerns about the teaching of Navajo religion by anyone other than Navajos. In 1977 the Museum therefore repatriated several Navajo medicine bundles and other items to the Navajo people.

With the repatriation of 1977, the museum changed its name to the Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian. Although it is no longer actively involved in the study of Navajo religion, it maintains growing, world-renowned collections that document Navajo art and culture from 1850 to the present. It also presents changing exhibitions on traditional and contemporary Navajo and other Native American arts.

External links

* [http://www.wheelwright.org/index.html Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian] official website
* [http://www.nps.gov/history/nr/travel/amsw/ American Southwest, a National Park Service "Discover Our Shared Heritage" Travel Itinerary]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Wheelwright (disambiguation) — Wheelwright may refer to:Occupation: * Wheelwright, a person who builds or repairs wheelsPeople: * Edmund M. Wheelwright (1854 1912), American architect * Edward Lawrence Wheelwright (1921 2007), Australian economist and political theorist, *… …   Wikipedia

  • Museum of International Folk Art — Coordinates: 35°39′51″N 105°55′34″W / 35.66406°N 105.92618°W / 35.66406; 105.92618 …   Wikipedia

  • Visual arts by indigenous peoples of the Americas — encompasses the visual artistic traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Americas from ancient times to the present. These include works from South America, Mesoamerica, North America including Greenland, as well as Siberian Yup ik peoples who …   Wikipedia

  • Native American jewelry — is the personal adornment, often in the forms of necklaces, earrings, bracelets, rings, pins, brooches, labrets, and others, made by the Indigenous peoples of the United States. Native American jewelry reflects the cultural diversity and history… …   Wikipedia

  • John Wheelwright — The text of this page is transcribed from reference #1 below.John Wheelwright (1592 ndash;15 November1679) was born in Saleby, Lincolnshire, England, the son of Rebert Wheelwright of Cumberworth and Saleby. His grandfather was John Wheelwright of …   Wikipedia

  • Martha Hopkins Struever — At home in Santa Fe Born November 14, 1931(1931 11 14) Milan, Indiana Occupation American Indian art dealer …   Wikipedia

  • Arthur Amiotte — Arthur Amiotte, (Wanblí Ta Hócoka Washté, Good Eagle Center, Centre Bon Aigle) est un artiste, éducateur et conservateur de la culture des Lakota (Sioux) né en 1942. Oglála Lakóta, de la réserve indienne de Pine Ridge, vit et travaille à Custer.… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Navajo people — Navajo Diné, Naabeehó Navajo portraits Total population 300,048 (2011)[1] …   Wikipedia

  • Santa Fe, New Mexico — City of Santa Fe   Capital city   La Villa Real de la Santa Fé de San Francisco de Asís …   Wikipedia

  • National Register of Historic Places listings in Santa Fe County, New Mexico — Location of Santa Fe County in New Mexico This is a list of the National Register of Historic Places listings in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. This is intended to be a complete list of the properties and districts on the National Register of… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.