The AMNH’s Northwest Coast Hall will reopen next week in the Museum’s oldest gallery. The fully revitalized hall will showcase “the creativity, scholarship, and history of the living cultures of the Pacific Northwest,” featuring brand new exhibits developed with Indigenous communities from the Pacific Northwest Coast.
The revitalization comes after 120 years since its first permanent exhibit showcasing the interpretation of cultures back in 1899.
Kulapat Yantrasast of WHY Architects worked closely with the Museum’s Exhibition Department to preserve the organization of the historic space while designing the halls revitalization.
“The design showcases the vitality and persistence of Pacific Northwest Coast Nations by enlivening the presentation of cultural treasures with new interpretation, storytelling, and dynamic media developed with Native scholars, artists, historians, filmmakers, and language experts.”
The Hall has been divided into a series of alcoves, featuring more than 1,000 “cultural treasures,” many with a 360° display view. Highlights of the revitalization include:
- The largest Northwest Coast dugout canoe in existence that totals 63 feet long.
- 60+ monumental carvings
- Examples of Pacific Northwest Coast material culture, including a Nuu-chah-nulth ceremonial Wolf curtain stretching more than 37 feet long
- Pieces specifically curated for the Hall, including a Suquamish woven basket, a “shadow,” or re-creation, of a beaver-shaped Tlingit canoe prow
- An exhibit featuring works by present-day Native artists
- A rotating gallery of contemporary art showcasing the continuity and transformation of Indigenous creative traditions
- Multimedia displays highlighting the peoples of the Pacific Northwest and their traditions in the face of challenges
Communities highlighted throughout the Hall include: the Coast Salish, Haida, Haíłzaqv, Kwakwaka’wakw, Nuu-chah-nulth, Nuxalk, Tlingit, alongside the Gitxsan, Nisga’a, and Tsimshian Nations.
Visitors will be able to get a deeper understanding of these communities through media installations such as intricate weavings, masks, feast dishes, and ceremonial regalia.
“I want my great-grandchildren to come here. I want them to be proud of where they’re from, proud of who they are, proud of the history of their family and the achievements of our people, the intelligence of people, the knowledge of people, the science of people in my community,” said Co-Curator Ḥaa’yuups. “So I want the Hall to reflect that reality, that there’s a different way to think about the world around you.”
The entire multi-year project required close communication between the Museum staff and a group of Consulting Curators from Native Nations of the Northwest Coast.
Find out more about the revitalization on the museums website here.