Ancestors: Ancient Native American Sculptures of Tennessee
Tennessee State Museum • October 30, 2015 – May 15, 2016
Nashville, TN — October 13, 2015 — An exhibition of ancient Native American statues, on view together for the first time, will open at the Tennessee State Museum this fall. Admission is free.
Ancestors will showcase a Pre-Columbian stone statuary tradition that was found primarily between the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. The statues were often found in ancestral pairs, each containing a male and a female. All have long been separated since their discovery, and most have been taken far outside the state. The exhibit, which will reunite some of the pairs, will include many which have never been shown.
The exhibit will feature a male sculpture considered to be among the greatest pieces of ancestral Native American art found in the United States. At 19” high, he has made way onto numerous covers of books and magazines, and is included on a U.S. postage stamp for the Art of the American Indian series.
In 2014, this statue on loan from the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, officially became recognized as the State Artifact. He will join his female mate, which has been graciously loaned by John C. Waggoner, Jr. of Carthage, Tennessee. They were discovered at the Sellars Farm State Archaeological Area in Wilson County, Tennessee, which was once a Native American village from the Mississippian period occupied approximately 700 to 1,000 years ago.
The 28 stone sculptures in this exhibit represent the largest group of Tennessee-Cumberland style statuary, including 14 from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., two from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, two from the McClung Museum, five from the State Museum’s collection, and five that are held in private collections.
Ancestors: Ancient Native American Sculptures of Tennessee will be on view in the museum’s Changing Galleries through May 15, 2016.
About the Tennessee State Museum:
In 1937, the Tennessee General Assembly created a state museum to care for World War I artifacts and other collections from the state and other groups. The museum was located in the lower level of the War Memorial Building until it was moved into the new James K. Polk Cultural Center in 1981. The Tennessee State Museum currently occupies three floors, covering approximately 120,000 square feet with more than 60,000 square feet devoted to exhibits. The museum’s Civil War holdings of uniforms, battle flags and weapons are among the finest in the nation. For more information please visit: www.tnmuseum.org.