Heard Museum

Trip Start Dec 29, 2006
Trip End Jan 13, 2007

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Saturday, December 30, 2006

    When I woke up this morning, the snow was still falling in Albuquerque and the early (825 am) flight that I was going to try to get on via stand-by had been canceled, so I decided to take a taxi into Phoenix and see the Heard Museum.

    This museum, which began with the collection of the Heards, but has since been expanded (and in which every room/space has been named for a donor) houses a large collection of Native American art. First, I went through the main exhibit, which uses "home" as a theme. In the entrance gallery, the museum juxtaposed ancient pieces of pottery and other crafts with modern examples following similar patterns.

The main exhibit was grouped by geographic location and included pottery, silver and turquoise jewelry, woven baskets, clothing, kachina dolls, textiles and artwork, with signs that included context as well as more information about the various cultures. There were two rooms (a Navajo hogan and a Hopi piki (blue corn bread)-making room) that you could walk into, and the museum had sleek architecture and lots of interactive touch screens. There was a small garden and a temporary exhibit of Inuit artwork. I went upstairs, and saw some of the other native artifacts that the Heards had collected (from areas not in North America)

and a very good exhibit on Indian Boarding Schools, which followed them through their harsh, initial, total-immersion in white culture conception through their cahnges and growth. Back downstairs, a small room described the Heards' plan for the museum and showed some of the nicest kachina dolls (including an eagle one), and a larger room had modern artwork by Native American artists. Like most modern artwork, it was beyond my understanding (that is to say, I found it rather weird). This side of the museum seemed more child-friendly. There was an exhibit on the 21 tribes native to Arizona and each tribe had a little text and a kid-friendly game or craft. Then there was a room that tied the artwork produced by the Native Americans to their natural environment. Finally there was a temporary exhibit on shoes, which had everything from traditional moccasins and snowshoes to modern high tops decorated with beads.

After I went through the museum, I went outside, where I had some traditional fry-bread, and I visited the gift shop. They were selling some lovely kachina dolls, but the smallest ones (perhaps 6" tall) sold for $500! I saw a traditional corn-grinding song and the Eagle dance performed as part of the Heard's holiday celebrations and then I took a taxi ride back to the hotel.

Once I got back to the hotel, I quickly checked out and moved on to the airport, where I discovered the weather in Albuquerque had gotten worse, not better! The best Southwest could do for me (as they had canceled all of today's flights to Albuquerque) was to fly me out on January 1 in the early evening! Instead, I decided to rebook to El Paso, and Professor Plog is driving to Texas to pick me up so I can rejoin the group. Right now I'm sitting in the airport (thank you, Phoenix, for the free wireless!) trying to stand-by on a 410 flight to El Paso. There are three little birds flying around (and yes, I know I sound like Charles Kinbote). If I don't make the 410 flight, I have a ticket at 6 pm.
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