Gilcrease to present exclusive exhibition at Italy's Palazzo Pitti

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gilcrease Museum collection will share Native American history, culture with European audiences.

Officials at the world-famous Palazzo Pitti museum in Florence, Italy, announced plans this week for an exhibition of Native American material and culture to be curated by Gilcrease Museum. The exhibition will open in July 2012 at the Palazzo Pitti and will run through January 2013.

joseph henry sharp crucitaDrawn exclusively from the Gilcrease Museum collection, the exhibition will consist of about 200 pieces of art and artifacts portraying Native American history and culture. Details of the exhibit are still being developed, but it is anticipated that the exhibition will include about 200 items from the Gilcrease collection, including fine art, photographs and ethnographic items. Works from Charles Banks Wilson, Joseph Henry Sharp and Edward S. Curtis are expected to be included.

The exhibition is being organized by the Palazzo Pitti and Gilcrease Museum in connection with events commemorating the 500th anniversary of the death of Amerigo Vespucci, the Florentine navigator and explorer for whom North and South America are named. The Palazzo Pitti is one of Europe’s most renowned museums, housing several collections including the works and memorabilia from the Medici family, which was one of the most influential families during the Renaissance.

TU President Steadman Upham said the initiative is part of TU’s strategic effort to raise awareness of the extraordinary collections of Thomas Gilcrease Museum and its location in the City of Tulsa.

Participating in the announcement on May 24, 2011 in Florence, Italy at the Palazzo Pitti were: Cristina Acidini, superintendent of the Polo Museale Fiorentino; Caterina Chiarelli, director of the Costume Museum, Palazzo Pitti; Alessandro Cecchi, director of the Boboli Gardens and the Palatine Museum, Palazzo Pitti; and Laura C. Johnson, professor of art history and director of the Gilcrease-Palazzo Pitti Project 2012 in Florence.

“The exhibit provides a fascinating look at Native American life during the period of cultural contact on the western frontier,” said Duane King, Ph.D., executive director of Gilcrease Museum and TU Vice President for Museum Affairs. “It will be the first time that many of these compelling works of art and related objects have been displayed outside the United States. We recognize the popular appeal of the art in the Gilcrease collection and are pleased that it will be seen by an appreciative audience at a museum as prestigious as the Palazzo Pitti.” 

Officials have been working for several years to prepare for the upcoming exhibition. A delegation from Florence visited Gilcrease Museum in September 2010 to see first-hand materials in the collection and to further discussions about the project.

“By sharing our museum’s collection with the Palazzo Pitti, we seek to promote a broader understanding of Native American history and culture within the international community,” King said.


Pictured: Crucita – A Taos Indian Girl in Old Wedding Dress and Dried Flowers, Joseph Henry Sharp, 1926, Oil on canvas, 0137.2194.

Melani Hamilton