George Catlin's Indian Gallery reassembled in K.C.

"George Catlin and His Indian Gallery," an exhibit that showcases more than 120 works of art from one of the most important collections at the Smithsonian American Art Museum, opens Saturday at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Determined to record the "manners and customs" of Native Americans, Catlin, a lawyer and painter, traveled thousands of miles from 1830 to 1836, following the trail of the Lewis and Clark expedition. He visited 50 tribes living west of the Mississippi River, from present-day North Dakota to Oklahoma.

During that time, he assembled the core of the paintings and artifacts for his Indian Gallery, portions of which will be recreated in the exhibition. Catlin's career as a showman, entrepreneur and writer in America and Europe will be examined in the exhibition.

"George Catlin and his Indian Gallery," the most comprehensive display of Catlin's work in more than a century, includes archival papers and Native American artifacts collected by the artist that have not been shown with the paintings in more than 100 years. The exhibition also details for the first time Catlin's relationship with the Smithsonian.

After its Kansas City run, which ends April 18, the exhibit will travel to Los Angeles, Houston and New York to celebrate the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803-1806.

Admission to the exhibit is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors and $3 for college students and children. Tickets can be purchased by calling (816) 751-1393.

Here's a look at activities scheduled at the museum, 4525 Oak St., Kansas City, Mo., in conjunction with the exhibition:

  • "Fabulous Friday for Teachers," tour to explain how teachers can incorporate the exhibition into classroom curriculum, 5 p.m. Feb. 20. Registration and $5 fee required.
  • "Songs of Life," Native American stories told through dancing, drumming and storytelling by Haskell Indian Nations University's Thunderbird Theatre, 7 p.m. Feb. 20, Atkins Auditorium, free.
  • "The Indians and George Catlin," lecture by George Horse Capture, member of the A'aninin Gros Ventre Tribe (Montana), special assistant for cultural resources and senior counselor to the director of the National Museum of the American Indian, 11 a.m. March 6, Atkins Auditorium, free.
  • Gallery Talk: Gaylord Torrence, Fred and Virginia Merrill Curator of American Indian Art, 7 p.m. March 12, meet at exhibition entrance. Free.
  • "George Catlin: Primitive or Pre-Impressionist?" lecture by Joan Troccoli, director and curator of the Denver Art Museum's Institute of Western American Art, 7 p.m. March 19, Atkins Auditorium. Free.
  • Gallery Talk: Margaret Conrads, Samuel Sosland Curator of American Art, 7 p.m. April 2, meet at exhibition entrance. Free.

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