Published on February 24, 2014 by Amy
Since its founding by Dwight and Maie Heard in 1929, the Heard Museum has grown in size and stature to become recognized internationally for the quality of its collections, its educational programming and its festivals. Dedicated to the sensitive and accurate portrayal of Native arts and cultures, the Heard is an institution that successfully combines the stories of American Indian people from a personal perspective with the beauty of art.
Through innovative programs, world-class exhibitions and unmatched festivals, the Heard Museum sets the standard nationally for collaborating with Native people to present first-person voices. Partnerships with American Indian artists and tribal communities provide visitors with a distinctive perspective about the art and cultures of Native people, especially those from the Southwest.
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The museum’s activities revolve around collecting, preserving and presenting art ranging from ancestral artifacts to contemporary paintings and jewelry. Exhibitions lay the foundation for learning about the cultures and experiences of the people — past and present — who create art. The Heard draws on its extensive collection as well as loaned artwork to present a mixture of long-term and changing exhibitions.
The Heard Museum actively collects American Indian fine art, and a variety of paintings, drawings, prints, photography and sculpture can be found throughout the museum’s galleries and grounds. Fine art exhibitions reflect the scope of the museum collection, which contains historic drawings more than a century old as well as contemporary canvases.
Several of the loveliest areas of the museum are located outdoors. In the museum’s courtyards, landscape combines with water features and sculpture to create a variety of relaxing environments. The Scott L. Libby, Jr. Amphitheater provides a theater-in-the-round area for large music and dance performances, while the Steele Auditorium provides flexible seating for a variety of programs including performances, lectures, theatrical presentations, films, meetings and private dinners.
Visitors of all ages can try hands-on activities that range from weaving with beads on an oversize loom and creating wearable art to forming their own butterflies, Apache burden baskets and Yaqui paper flowers. Dozens of videos throughout the museum provide more in-depth understanding about specific cultures, art forms and artists.
School groups regularly visit the museum’s galleries and also can take part in hands-on craft activities with artists and educators in the classrooms of the Dorrance Education Center.
One of the most important ways the Heard Museum supports American Indian artists and encourages their artistic endeavors is through events and festivals. Combined, the museum’s events draw more than 40,000 visitors annually.
While the Heard is recognized nationally and internationlly for its outstanding art collections and interpretative insights, it is the talent, hours and funding given by museum volunteers that make the museum such a special place. From its Board of Trustees and Heard Museum Council to the 600-plus members of the Heard Museum Guild, volunteers are involved in every aspect of the museum and provide invaluable experience and expertise.
The book Heard Museum History & Collections is available for sale at the Heard Museum Shop and retails for $10.95.