First Major Reinstallation of Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection, Opens April 12

Rotation of the long-term display features recently acquired work by contemporary Indigenous artists 

Exhibition Dates:April 12, 2021–ongoing
Exhibition Location: The Met Fifth Avenue, Gallery 746, The Erving and Joyce Wolf Gallery

On April 12, The Metropolitan Museum of Art will unveil the first major reinstallation of Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection, the long-term display that debuted in The Erving and Joyce Wolf Gallery in the American Wing in fall 2018. The inaugural installation featured 116 artworks from more than 50 Indigenous cultures across North America—promised gifts, donations, and loans to The Met from the New York collectors Charles and Valerie Diker. This current iteration features 89 works, with 29 new additions.

Highlights of the 2021 installation include recent acquisitions of work by contemporary Indigenous artists—a fully beaded northern traditional dance outfit by Jodi Archambault (Hunkpapa and Oglala Lakota) and a hand-sewn textile hanging, Untitled (Dream Catcher), by Marie Watt (Seneca)—as well as significant loans of ceramic and beaded art by Courtney Leonard (Shinnecock) and Joe Baker (Lenape/Delaware), respectively. The reinstalled display also features new loans from the Dikers, including Woodlands material of the Chitimatcha and Seminole communities; gifts of Diné textiles and Lakota beadwork from the Ernst and Hirschfield collections in celebration of The Met’s 150th anniversary; as well as subsequent donations of Lakota clothing from long-term American Wing supporters Lesley and Joseph Hoopes. Selections from The Met’s Ralph T. Coe Collection, which entered the Museum in 2011, are also featured.

Also new to the installation is an active land and water statement that demonstrates The Met’s institutional commitment to respectfully recognizing the original Native American and Indigenous communities of the New York region as well as their inextricable ties to its land and waters. The statement affirms the Museum’s ongoing intention to pursue collaborative relationships with contemporary Native American artists and source communities. 

The 2021 reinstallation of Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection is co-curated by Patricia Marroquin Norby (Purépecha), The Met’s inaugural Associate Curator of Native American Art, and Sylvia Yount, Lawrence A. Fleischman Curator in Charge, both of the American Wing. The 2018 installation was guest curated by Gaylord Torrence, then Fred and Virginia Merrill Senior Curator of American Indian Art, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, Missouri, with the assistance of Marjorie Alexander, Curatorial Consultant in American Indian Art at The Nelson-Atkins.

Adjacent to the long-term installation, in the north end of The Erving and Joyce Wolf Gallery now reserved for responsive displays to Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection, is the exhibition Karl Bodmer: North American Portraits, which opened April 5, 2021. 

The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection of Native American Art

In both temporal depth and regional diversity, the Charles and Valerie Diker Collection has long been considered the most significant holdings of historical Native American art in private hands. Over more than 40 years, the Dikers formed a collection that represents the highest artistic achievements of Native American cultures across North America. The Dikers have long been engaged with The Met, lending works to the Museum since the 1990s. Before the announcement of their landmark promised gift in 2017, three loans that became outright gifts—an early 19th-century Haudenosaunee pouch, a late 19th-century Pomo basket, and an early 20th-century jar by Maria and Julián Martínez of San Ildefonso Pueblo—were displayed in fall 2016 on the second floor of The Met’s American Wing. There they were presented in dialogue with contemporaneous paintings and sculpture by Euro-American artists in order to explore relevant historical and cultural entanglements. More such installations are being planned by the American Wing.

Photo: The Met