h/t to the GCAS's own Chris Overlock for hipping us to today's news in the Chicago Tribune.
The Art Institute of Chicago has indefinitely postponed the exhibition they had planned for May, 2019, of a private individual's collection of some 70 pieces of Mimbres pottery. The article indicates the Art Institute came to realize that grave goods comprise the majority of this private collection. Such items are inappropriate for public display.
“It’s not art,” said Patty Loew, director of Northwestern University’s Center for Native American and Indigenous Research, who...has followed the controversy within the community of Native American scholars. “If someone dug up your great-grandmother’s grave and pulled out a wedding ring or something that had been buried with her, would you feel comfortable having that item on display?”
The Art Institute's decision to postpone came very late in the exhibition process, after months of opposition from Native American researchers and community representatives. They opposed both the Art Institute's intent to display grave goods, and the Institute's failure to include Native American specialists from the very beginning of the curation and exhibition process. These groups now feel that the Art Institute's decision to postpone reflects at long last an acknowledgement of their concerns and an approach of greater cultural sensitivity to the issues this exhibition raises.
The Art Institute seems to want to move forward with possibly exhibiting this Mimbres collection in the future, but intends to collaborate with the Native American nations and Puebloan leaders who have the closest connections to the Mimbres people. That is certainly good news.
In the meantime, however, it would be interesting if researchers specializing in Mimbres archaeology could be given an opportunity to study this collection - either by the Art Institute or the collection's owner, Ed Harris - to possibly determine the provenience of one or more of the pieces. Pipe dream?