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New Library Exhibit – Native American Beadwork in the MNHS’ Collections

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Come see the new Library Lobby exhibit on Native America beadwork, open the same hours as the Library.

Minnesota Historical Society is the repository for approximately 9,000 ethnographic objects of Native American origin. These objects include everything from basketry and ceramics to clothing and pipes, and span two and a half centuries. Perhaps 1,000 of those objects are embellished with beads; necklaces, leggings, sashes, shirts, pipe bags, watch fobs, feather bonnets, and things made for sale to the tourist trade are all represented in the Society’s collection, as are objects from every corner of the U.S. and Canada. Due to MNHS’ mission to specifically collect objects that are meaningful to the history of the state of Minnesota, the overwhelming majority of these items come from the immediate area. As a reflection of this regional depth, most of the Native beadwork in our collection falls into either the Plains (for example, Dakota, Lakota, Cheyenne) or Woodland (Ojibwe, Ho-Chunk, Cree) category.

This small exhibit draws specifically from MNHS’ collection of Native American beadwork. It is organized chronologically, beginning with the vitrine to the left when facing the glass doors to the Gale Family Library, and continuing in a clockwise fashion around the library registration desk. Within this exhibit one can explore pre-contact precursors to indigenous beadwork; different techniques used in beadwork; a glimpse of the wide variety of cultural styles in Native beadwork across the U.S. and Canada; how beaded objects functioned in the changing 19th century Native economy; and the modern resurgence of Native American beadwork.

More information can be found on these objects at Minnesota Historical Society’s collections website:

www.mnhs.org/collections

This exhibit will be on view until the end of April.

Leah Bowe
Collections Associate, NAGPRA


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“Magnet”

Thursday, March 13th, 2014

A very large oil painting on canvas made by Michael Kareken in 2009.

For more information, view this painting in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Remembering Joan Mondale

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014

Joan Mondale, wife of former Senator and Vice-President Walter Mondale, passed away this week at the age of 83. She was a passionate arts advocate, partner in politics, potter, and mother.

Seen here are a selection of images from her personal papers and Mr. Mondale’s papers, both at the Minnesota Historical Society. These images show many aspects of her life in the public eye, but can only hint at her spirit.

Please see this document for specific information on the images.
Joan Mondale Slideshow photo info

Learn More:

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Joan Mondale’s Painting Smock

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014

Joan Mondale, wife of former Senator and Vice President Walter Mondale passed away yesterday at the age of 83. She was a passionate advocate for the arts and was often dubbed “Joan of Art” as you can see from this painting smock which was part of the Joan Mondale Papers in the collections at the Minnesota Historical Society.

Joan Mondale's Painting Smock

The smock was probably used during Walter Mondale’s 1984 campaign for President and prominently displays her “Joan of Art” nickname.

For details, view this smock in our collections database.

Learn More:

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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“Autumn Road”

Monday, October 21st, 2013

“Autumn Road”

“Autumn Road” an oil on canvas painting by Ada Wolfe.

For details, view this painting in our collections database.

(Note: The comments section has been temporarily disabled while we upgrade the website. You can always leave comments on our Flickr Photostream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/minnesotahistoricalsociety/)

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Big Ben

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Big Ben

“Big Ben” oil on canvas made by Minnesota artist Scott Lloyd Anderson in 2008.

For details, view this painting in our collections database.

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“Descriptive Study/Greg” by Jerry Rudquist

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

“Descriptive Study/Greg” by Jerry Rudquist

Large oil on board painting made by Minnesota artist Jerry Rudquist in 1990.

For details, view this painting in our collections database.

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“Itasca State Park” by Francis Meisch

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

“Itasca State Park” by Francis Meisch

Etching on paper by Francis Meisch, 1937.

For details, view this etching in our collections database.

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“Steel and Stone” by Robert Edwards

Monday, June 24th, 2013

“Steel and Stone” by Robert EdwardsSteel and Stone by Robert Edwards

Gouache on board painting of the Chicago Great Western Railway Bridge and the Robert Street Bridge in downtown St. Paul, 1987.

For details, view this painting in our collections database.

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Ded Unk’Unpi: We Are Here Exhibit Acquisitions

Thursday, June 13th, 2013

The Minnesota Historical Society strives to make history relevant to the lives of contemporary Minnesotans. One of the ways in which the Society carries out this mission is by collecting and caring for materials that document the stories of Minnesota’s peoples.  In 2012, the Minnesota Historical Society and the Native American Community Development Institute with All My Relations Art sponsored the Ded Unk’unpi : We Are Here art exhibit. As 2012 marked the 150th year since the U.S. – Dakota War of 1862, twenty participating American Indian artists shared their reflections on the war and related events, as well as on this “commemorative” year.

As the Ded Unk’unpi : We Are Here exhibit came to a close, the Society’s Collections department was privileged to acquire for its permanent collections eight of these works. Many of the artworks themselves document the historic events of the War and its immediate and extended aftermath, including the subsequent mass execution in Mankato and Dakota removal to Crow Creek. But the artworks also serve somewhat as documents in-and-of-themselves; to be “read” by future Minnesotans in order to better understand this point in time -2012 – and the powerful and complicated emotions, artistic visions, and scholarship of today. Consisting of both traditional and contemporary media, prevailing themes found throughout the pieces include the regaining of cultural strength, the healing of wounds, and the honoring of relatives.

In the ledger art piece, For Every Great Man, There is a Great Woman, 2012, artist Avis Charley depicts three generations of Dakota women moving westward across the plains. A noticeable absence of men may allude not only to the strength of these women, but to the fact that many Dakota men (even those who did not participate in the War), were held as prisoners for years following 1862. In her artist statement, she writes, “The women represent different generations and the virtues of our Dakota values. These values are courage, honesty, perseverance, and generosity and the message will be about healing, moving forward, and empowering ourselves as Dakota women despite the trauma in our history.”

For Every Great Man, There is a Great Woman, 2012
Avis Charley
color pencil and acrylic on paper
AV2012.7

On December 26th 1862, following six weeks of war, thirty-eight Dakota men were hanged in Mankato, Minnesota – a hanging that remains the largest one-day execution in American history.  Among these men was Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi, or Good Little Stars. Within the Dakota culture, each child born has a public name which denotes their birth order, and first born males are called Caske (Cha-SKAY).  Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi, among many others, often answered to his public name of Caske.

Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi and his family protected Sarah Wakefield, the wife of a doctor from the Upper Sioux Agency, and her children during the war. In spite of protests and professions of his innocence by Mrs. Wakefield, he was sentenced to death, and she ostracized for her efforts to protect him.  There are conflicting accounts of whether or not this man was hanged by mistake or whether his execution was deliberate.  One version of the story purports that because there were multiple Caskes imprisoned, Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi simply answered the executioner’s call by mistake. A closer inspection of the historical record proves this version to be oversimplified and perhaps superficial.

Today, to many Dakota people, Wicaŋḣpi Wastedaŋpi represents a martyr or a lost hero. It can be seen that for his efforts in protecting other human lives, his only reward was a vindictive frontier justice. Through her piece Caske’s Pardon, Gwen Westerman offers a prayer for his federal pardon.

Caske’s Pardon, 2012
Gwen Westerman
Quilt: 100% commercial and hand- dyed cotton; glass, beads, hemp, and paper embellishments
AV2012.11

James Star Comes Out created his piece, 1862 Sung Ite Ha, and other similar pieces, with the goal of revitalizing the art of horse regalia in his home community of Pine Ridge. He writes that “in doing so, I believe that it will be beneficial to all, as it will exemplify the beauty of Lakota culture and in return it will encourage, motivate and revive a centuries-old art form.” This piece was created as a tribute, to honor the 38 men that were hanged in Mankato in 1862.


1862 Sung Ite Ha, 2012
James Star Comes Out
cotton fabric, brass spots, brass bells, beads, tin cones, goose feathers, red fluffs, turkey feathers, and mirrors
AV2012.8.A,B

These pieces, along with others by well-known artists Jim Denomie, Julie Buffalohead, Maggie Thompson, Jodi Webster and Dwayne Wilcox were formally added to the Society’s permanent collections in 2012. To view these and other artworks, visit our collections online database here.

Ben Gessner
Collections Associate, American Indian & Fine Art Collections

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An Ounce of Preservation: A Guide to the Care of Papers and Photographs