The Dallin Museum is temporarily closed for the installation of the new Indigenous Peoples Gallery

A preview of the panels featured in the Dallin Museum’s new Indigenous Peoples Gallery.

The Cyrus Dallin Museum of Art is closed until mid-July for the installation of a new Indigenous Peoples Gallery exhibit and a redesign of the lobby. This exciting project is supported by funds from the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area Partnership Grant Program.

The state funds were facilitated by state representative Sean Garballey, who worked with a museum team that included Dallin Friends of the Museum president Stephen Gilligan and board chairman Geri Tremblay, as well as Board Members Nancy Blanton, Andrew Jay and Dan Johnson, Director/Curator Heather Leavell and Treasurer James Charnley.

“The Dallin Museum sincerely thanks Representative Garballey for his leadership in securing this important grant,” Tremblay said in a May 13 press release.

In the redesigned spaces of the museum, visitors will experience the compelling and nuanced story of Cyrus Dallin’s art and legacy through multiple viewpoints and perspectives.

The new gallery will explore Dallin’s depictions of Indigenous people in the context of his time, intentions and personal values, while focusing on the experiences, histories and cultures of Indigenous peoples past and present. Interpretive themes encourage visitors to explore how Dallin’s legacy resonates today and what we can learn from his example.

“This project represents the culmination of years of research into Cyrus Dallin’s legacy as an ally and advocate for Indigenous rights, and reflects the museum’s ongoing commitment to fostering dialogue on issues that remain important to indigenous peoples and that affect us all,” said Leavell.

New gallery, redesigned entrance highlights

Museum visitors will soon enjoy:

  • A new wall panel in the museum entrance illuminating Dallin’s art and legacy through quotes from the sculptor’s students at Mass. Normal Art School, his friend Chief LeRoy Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag), and Jonathan Fairbanks, curator emeritus and founder of the Department of American Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston.
  • Graphic panels that share the stories of significant and influential Indigenous people in the life and art of Dallin, including Chief Washakie, Francis LaFlesche, Zitkála-Šá, and Sacajawea.
  • Contemporary Indigenous perspectives on Dallin’s art, the role of allies, and the proliferation of Indigenous stereotypes in popular culture. Contributors include Faries Gray, Sagamore of the Massachusett Tribe in Ponkapoag; Claudia Tekina-ru Fox Tree, Arawak (Yurumein) educator and social justice activist; and Forrest Cuch, elder of the Ute tribe and former Director of Indian Affairs for the State of Utah.
  • An audio program featuring a conversation between Dallin and Cuch, which responds to Dallin’s written observations (voiced by an actor) about the Ute people, systemic violence against Indigenous peoples, and the need to tell the truth about history.
  • A “Whose land are you on?” panel exploring what it means to be in Indigenous space written by Elizabeth Solomon, an elder of the Massachusett tribe in Ponkapoag.

Part of the $50,000 state grant is also being used to digitize the museum’s archives and create an online database accessible to the public through the museum’s website. The museum is grateful to the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area, the City of Arlington, and the City Board of Directors for their continued collaboration and support.

The Dallin Museum is planning a public reopening celebration, likely to take place in mid-July. Updates will be posted on Dallin.org and on the museum’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

Cyrus Dallin Art Museum

Founded in 1998, the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum is the only museum in the United States solely dedicated to preserving the legacy of this internationally renowned artist, educator, and Indigenous rights advocate. With exhibits of over 100 works, including around 50 sculptures, 10 paintings and several coins and medals, the museum offers new insights into our shared history by exploring the life, work and values ​​of this famous sculptor.

For the latest news, to take a virtual tour of the museum, or view our past programming videos, visit Dallin.org. Stay connected with us by following the museum’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.


April 14, 2022: Before the runners arrive, head to the Dallin Museum

This news digest, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published on Monday, May 16, 2022.

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