Art of the Ancient Americas
Combining the museum’s holdings and the Harold W. Shaw Collection, this gallery, which opened in 2017, showcases the rich artistic traditions and the remarkable cultures that created these impressive objects–from the Olmecs of Mexico to the Inkas of Peru and spanning 2,500 years.
The artworks are arranged by culture and explore the social, intellectual and religious themes articulated by their function and imagery. The installation embraces recent discoveries in archaeology, art history and hieroglyphic decipherment to transform the artworks from curious objects to poignant phrases in the story of human endeavor in the Americas before the arrival of Europeans in the sixteenth century. It examines the fundamental social, religious and aesthetic tenets of ancient Americans, revealing the cultures’ unique artistic expressions while recognizing their many similarities with all human societies.