Exhibition on ancient Native Americans opens at Birmingham Museum of Art on October 9

This story is reproduced with permission from The Birmingham Times

More than 1,000 years after Alabama hosted one of the most important and important Native American cultures to ever exist, the Birmingham Museum of Art (BMA) is planning an exhibition with some of the artifacts.

“Lost Realms of the Mound Builders: Ancient Native Americans of the South and Midwest,” a free exhibit, will open at the BMA on October 9 and run through February 6, 2022.

“The reason I thought it would be interesting to bring the show to Alabama is because one of the most important sites of the Mississippi Mound Builders is here in Alabama on the Moundville side, near Tuscaloosa, ”Emily said. Hanna, principal curator of the arts of Africa and the Americas at the BMA. “The Mississippian mound builders were the origin of some of the earliest man-made monuments in North America, creating huge, hand-built platform mounds.

“Moundville is an amazing city that has several massive platform mounds,” she added. “Moundville was connected to many other sites in the Midwest and the South. They were all related by trade, so I thought for us in Alabama, it would be amazing to see this amazing collection of items that take us back to who lived in our state, and what they thought and made.

Shell cup engraved with representation of Birdman. Le Flore County, Oklahoma, Spiro Site, 1100 – 1200 AD. Marine shell. (Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, University of Oklahoma, Norman)

The exhibit will explore “the fascinating archeology and history of the builders of the Mississippian, their religious and ceremonial activities, agricultural and hunting practices, business networks, and highly developed social, political and religious centers,” Hanna said.

Organized by the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma, the exhibit features 175 historical artifacts such as sculpted shell cups, ceremonial weapons, basketry, and jewelry from four major Mississippian Mound Builder sites: the Spiro Mounds in Oklahoma, Moundville in Alabama, Etowah Mounds in Georgia and Cahokia Mounds in East Saint Louis, Illinois.

“We wanted to make sure we showcase these beautiful items. . . there are so many objects coming from everywhere and that is a key point of the show, ”said Hanna.

The exhibit also features contemporary Indigenous artwork that connects the art and art of the Mississippian Mound Builder peoples to their modern descendants.

“The other half of the exhibit is contemporary art made by people who are descended from the Mound Builders,” Hanna said. “There are works of art like their detailed pottery and carvings and their sophisticated weapons… It’s not just portrayed as a culture of the dead past, it shows you that people are alive and well and have a connection. with that past… they make works of art and often they create works of art that connect with the past.

For more information, please visit the BMA website at www.artsbma.org

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