Hungry Planet: What the World Eats

May 3 through August 31, 2014

Gain a global perspective on the food and the environment through spectacular photos from the award-winning book by Peter Menzel and Faith D’Alusio. Visitors met ten families from around the world photographed in their kitchens with one week’s worth of food. They discovered surprising similarities and differences in how each family produces, shops for, and prepares their food. Some foods showed up on almost every family’s menu, while others were unique.

The exhibition provided a thought-provoking analysis of worldwide food consumption in a way that was entertaining and accessible. The 40 color photographs, depicting everything from American drive-thru fast food restaurants to open-air kitchens in Mali, documented the sharp contrasts and universal aspects of this essential human pursuit.



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 Ramp it Up: Skateboard Culture in Native America 

February 8, 2014 – June 15, 2014

Style an flow. Courage and creativity. Strength and reilience. Lessons of skate life, lessons of Native life, learned on the streets and on the rez. Skateboarding combines demanding physical exertion with design, graphic art, filmmaking, and music to produce a unique and dynamic culture.

One of the most popular sports on Indian reservations, skateboarding has inspired American Indian and Native Hawaiian communities to host skateboard competitions and build skate parks to encourage their youth. Native entrepreneurs own skateboard companies and sponsor community- based skate teams. Native artists and filmmakers, inspired by their skating experiences, credit the sport with teaching them a successful work ethic.

These are the indigenous stories of skateboarding. This exhibit celebrated the vibrancy, creativity, and controversy of Native skate culture.

Originally on view at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American IndianRamp It Up revealed the rich underground world of skateboarding, which combines demanding physical exertion with design, graphic art, filmmaking, and music. The exhibition included 28 objects and 45 images, including rare archival photographs, skate decks (or boards) created by Native American artists, and film footage of these acrobatic, artistic athletes in action.


The Art of Sport + Play Experience

October 19, 2013  –  January 26, 2014


Kevin Carroll’s first exhibition, The Art of Sport and Play, was a personal look at selected pieces of memorabilia gathered from Kevin’s travels around the world. The heart of the collection was a group of handcrafted balls created by children with found materials from their native lands. With a playful spirit, The Art of Sport and Play told a story about the universal power of sport. Created for all ages, the exhibit showed that sport and play are common human denominators and equalizers. No matter where you go in the world sport and play is ever-present – we ALL PLAY + we ALL SPEAK BALL.

Acclaimed author of Rules of the Red Rubber Ball and What’s Your Red Rubber Ball?!, Carroll grew up in Philadelphia playing as many sports as he could find. He played whatever sport was in season – soccer, football, basketball, baseball – and the red rubber ball was always there. It became a powerful symbol of sport while he ran, chased, caught, kicked, bounced and threw balls. His passion for sports has led to a life of advancing sports and play as a vehicle for social change.


Masterworks of Native American Art: Selections from the Fred and Enid Brown Collection
September 28, 2013 – January 5, 2014

J. C. Black, Mother Earch, Father Sky and Yeis Dancers, 2006 Fred and Enid Brown American Indian Art Collection, c. 2010

J. C. Black, Mother Earch, Father Sky and Yeis Dancers, 2006
Fred and Enid Brown American Indian Art Collection, c. 2010

The Native American fine arts movement of the 20th century represents a recent chapter in a long history of artistic expression by the indigenous people of North America. For thousands of years the Native people of North America have created fantastic works of art in stone, ivory, metal, horn, shell, plant material, plaster and clay that were often embellished with pigments and painted designs.

This Masterworks exhibition presented a selection of Native American paintings and drawings created over the past 50 years, from ca. 1960-2010. The movement into a new century provides an opportunity to examine patterns of formal continuity and change in the artworks themselves, and the motivations, events and circumstances that inspire and guide their creation.


Dancers and Deities: Kachinas from the James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection

21 September 2012 – 06 January 2013


Dancers and Deities featured an amazing selection of Native American Kachinas created by master artists from Hopi and Zuni Pueblos. As deities Kachinas are important figures in the cosmology and religion of the Pueblo people of the American Southwest.

As masked dancers Kachinas are central in the rituals and ceremonies conducted to insure the rain and fertility necessary for a bountiful harvest. As dancers Kachinas become highly symbolic representations of the deities. In recent times Kachina carvings have become treasured artworks that exhibit deep cultural significance and creative ability. The Bialac collection includes works by dozens of significant artists and dates between 1950-2010, representing the full development of this art form and its commercial appeal.

Stained Glass Katchina

Stained Glass Kachina Window by Delbridge Honanie, from the James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection. Courtesy of Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, University of Oklahoma.

Dancers and DeitiesDancers and Deities


Southwest Visions: Paintings from the James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection

21 October 2012 – 06 January 2013

Southwest Visions

Southwest Visions: Paintings from the James T. Bialac Native Art Collection celebrated a centuries-old tradition of painting on rock, earth, and clay with mineral pigments. Native artists from the American Southwest quickly transformed this tradition, adopting European easel painting and developing a distinct style that continues to help define Native American art today. Ranging from the representational style promoted by the Santa Fe Indian School in the 1930’s to contemporary responses to the School’s colonial roots and romantic aspirations, this exhibit presented a comprehensive suite of Southwest Native American paintings that spans the development of twentieth-century Native American art.

Stunning paintings included in the show are by such well-known Native artists as Robert Chee, Pop Chalee, Harrison Begay, Joe Hererra, Pablita Velarde, Tony Abeyta, Dan Lomahaftewa and many others.

Southwest Visions


A Gathering of Traditions: A Centennial Celebration of Dr. Charles Marius Barbeau in Oklahoma 


This exhibition celebrated the centennial of fieldwork undertaken by Dr. Charles Marius Barbeau, a Canadian ethnographer who visited the Wynadotte and Seneca – Cayuga communities in Oklahoma in 1911-12.  The exhibition featured 51 objects and 29 photographs collected by Dr. Barbeau and are now in the collections of the Canadian Museum of Civilization in Ottawa.

A Gathering of Traditions recognized the importance of the Barbeau materials in the culture and heritage programs of the contemporary Wyandotte community.  Of particular importance are the sound recordings that Dr. Barbeau made of vocabulary, stories and songs that are critical to the modern language and cultural revitalization programs of these communities.

Barbeau Exhibit

The exhibit also featured a video program comprised of interviews with tribal officials and descendants of the individuals interviewed by Dr. Barbeau and who made and used the objects that he collected. The exhibition was sponsored by a generous grant from the Wyandotte Nation of Oklahoma with support from the Sam Noble Museum, University of Oklahoma and the Canadian Museum of Civilization, Ottawa.


First Time on Exhibit: New Native Art from the Museum’s Collection

5 May – 19 August 2012

This exhibit featured 85 objects from the permanent collection of the Sam Noble Museum acquired between 2009 and 2012. The impressive variety of objects were predominately from contemporary Native North American cultures. They included beaded bags, rattles, and fans made by the Cheyenne, Ponca, Kickapoo, and Navajo. There were hand-woven baskets and hand-painted pottery by artists from the San Ildefonso Pueblo, the Hopi, the Acoma, the Navajo, and the Cherokee. Stunning sterling silver jewelry inlaid with stones and shells by the Zuni and Navajo and a beautiful Kiowa otter-fur turban completed this collection of newly-acquired objects from North America. Baskets made by the Harari culture of Ethiopia and the Xerente/Mumbuca culture of Brazil as well as a series of 50 Ethiopian silver cross pendants supplemented this incredible material. Reflected in the objects of this exhibit, the Ethnology collection at the Sam Noble Museum is global in scope but heavily anchored in Native North America.

First Time on Exhibit illustrated the importance of ethnology collections in providing material testament to the stories of diverse communities and peoples.  The acquisition of new objects and the stewardship of these objects is central to museum missions. This exhibit sought to engage visitors in a discussion of museum collecting through looking at objects that were systematically collected directly from the Native artists or donated by private collectors between 2009 and 2012.


Warrior Spirits: Indigenous Arts from New Guinea
3 Feb – 13 May 2012

This exhibition featured nearly 100 objects from the permanent collections of the Sam Noble Museum and the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art. The objects were created and used by the indigenous peoples of present-day Papua New Guinea and West Papua, Indonesia. The island of New Guinea is one of the most diverse places in the world with over 850 distinct languages spoken and hundreds of cultural groups. Geologists collected many of the objects featured in this exhibition during surveys in the 1970s assessing petroleum and mineral resources, and US soldiers contributed items collected while Allied Forces manned listening stations in New Guinea during World War II.


Warrior Spirits reflected the diversity of the island regions, highlighting ceremonial traditions such as the dramatic fire dances practiced in the Highlands of West Papua and the ritualized veneration of ancestors among the Sepik River groups of New Guinea. The exhibition featured weapons including carved shields, war-clubs, spears and bows and arrows, plus carved daggers made from the bones of cassowary birds – a large flightless bird native to New Guinea and prized for its aggressive territorial nature. The exhibition was augmented with maps, graphics, and audio and video elements that allowed visitors a glimpse into the fascinating world of New Guinea.

Warrior Spirits won the 2012 OMA (Oklahoma Museum Association) Award for Interpretive Exhibit in a large museum.


Mediterranean Treasures: Selections from the Classics Collection
2 Oct 2010- 17 Apr 2011

This exhibition featured some 100 of the most significant objects from the museum’s classics collection, dating from between the 21st century BCE and the 3rd century CE. These objects, crafted in ceramic, stone, metal and glass, display the rich artistic and cultural diversity of the ancient Mediterranean region, including Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. The exhibition highlights the fact that, while their artistic approaches were unique, the cultures that developed them were related.

The classics collection of the Sam Noble Museum was founded in 1939 when H. Lloyd Stow, professor of Greek at the University of Oklahoma, and his wife Hester began assembling objects from the ancient Mediterranean for study and exhibition. Over the years this collection has grown through numerous purchases and, more importantly, generous donations from individuals such as Ambassador George C. McGhee and Dr. Mark Allen Everett. Museum purchases and orphaned collections from outside institutions have also aided its growth. The collection includes objects from a wide variety of civilizations, and now contains more than nine hundred objects and more than two hundred casts and replicas.


Stories in Fiber and Clay: Baskets and Ceramics of the Southwest
6 Feb – 2 May 2010

Fiber and Clay Promo 1

This exhibit presents a wonderful selection of baskets and ceramics produced by Native Americans from the Southwest region. The exhibit provides an important opportunity to view historic pieces from the Ethnology collections of SNOMNH and contemporary works from the collections of the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in a single venue. These objects are used to present stories of maintenance and revival, of tradition and innovation. The art forms continue to provide an important element of individual and community identity and a major arena for native and non-native interaction. The exhibition features works from a range of communities including the Navajo, Hopi, Tohono O’odam, Western Apache, and Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Santa Domingo and Acoma Pueblos.


One Hundred Summers: A Kiowa Calendar Record
1 May – 23 Aug 2009

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This exhibition  featured the calendar drawings of Kiowa artist and calendar-keeper Silver Horn. The images depict key events in the history of the Kiowa people between 1828 and the winter of 1928-29. The descriptions were prepared by Candace Greene, ethnologist at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C.

In the traditional Kiowa calendar, each year is represented by two images – one for the summer and one for the winter. The events depicted are agreed upon by tribal elders and drawn and maintained by designated tribal calendar-keepers, like Silver Horn. The calendar records were originally kept on hides or cloth, but eventually were
copied into ledgers.

Silver Horn was born in 1860 (“The Summer That Bird Appearing was Killed,” according to his calendar). Both his father and older brother also were calendar-keepers for the tribe. He was a prolific artist, and created hundreds of drawings representing Kiowa history and tradition before his death in 1940.

This calendar was donated to the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History in 2001 from the estate of Nelia Mae Roberts, who ran an Indian trading post in Anadarko. The museum subsequently received a Save America’s Treasures Grant that provided for the conservation and restoration of the calendar’s fragile pages by a professional paper conservator. The process took over a year, and the restored pages went on display for the first time in the museum from May 1 through Aug. 23, 2009.

Only one other full Silver Horn calendar is known to exist today. It was created by Silver Horn in 1904 specifically for the archives of the Smithsonian Institution and covers the period from 1828 through 1904.


Native American Masterworks: Selections From the Fred and Enid Brown Collection
15 Feb – 14 May 2008

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This exhibit featured more than 150 works of art and ethnographic objects works ranging from paintings and sculpture to textiles and pottery. Both traditional and contemporary works from many tribes were represented, illustrating the rich cultural heritage of Native American artists.


Collecting Oklahoma: A Centennial Celebration
12 June 2007 – 21 Jan 2008

This exhibition told the story of the Sooner state in objects and specimens collected through the museum’s more-than-100-year history. The exhibition was an official Oklahoma Centennial project and included exhibit labels presented in English, Spanish and Cherokee.

In addition to the impressive elasmosaur fossil, “Collecting Oklahoma” featured unique objects from across of the state. Each one with a story to tell about the fascinating natural and cultural history of the state. Included are objects from the museum’s various collection and research areas, including paleontology, archaeology, life sciences and Native American cultures and languages. None of the objects has ever before been publicly exhibited before.

Our museum was founded by an act of the Territorial Legislature in 1899 and designated as the state museum of natural history by the Oklahoma Legislature in 1987. Since before statehood, scientists at the museum have been collecting and studying the natural history of the land that would come to be called Oklahoma. The objects and specimens collected by these generations of scientists have been preserved and protected in the museum’s collections for the use of future generations of researchers. In “Collecting Oklahoma,” the museum was able to highlight the rich history of Oklahoma and the fascinating story of the museum itself in one entertaining and educational exhibit.

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Ethnology @ SNOMNH is an experimental weblog for sharing the collections of the Division of Ethnology at the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History.


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