The re-installation of the Denver Art Museum’s American Indian art galleries has an important new feature: individual artist names are now included on its wall labels. The comprehensive re-installation heralds a new move towards recognition of the history of Native American art, as well as Native American artists’ contribution to a larger American art history.
The purpose of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts’ new Art of the Americas wing to provide a space to tell the entire story of American art. Yet visitors may be surprised to find the ground floor of the new wing occupied by Aztec, Mayan and Native American art, sharing space with early colonial work. The new galleries question the idea that “American” art is solely defined by work created in the United States, tied to the too-strong connection between “America” and the colonial US. The MFA instead presents art from this era of both Americas, South and North, as a continuum, part of a dynamic intercultural milieu. But how far does the museum go in redefining what we mean by “American” art?