Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum

February 16, 2024 - April 28, 2024

Brightly-dressed people surrounding a group of teepees and a green tree

Oklahoma’s Gilcrease Museum houses one of the best and most comprehensive collections of Native American art in the country, largely built by a collector who was himself a member of the Muscogee Nation. This unprecedented traveling exhibition emphasizes Indigenous art from the heartland from the late nineteenth century to the present day, supplemented by ancient stone carvings and by a handful of contrasting Euro-American works. Arranged into four stimulating sections exploring transhistorical themes of ceremony, sovereignty, visual abstraction, and identity, Past Forward amplifies Indigenous voices and affirms the centrality of Native American art to American art history.

Expand your engagement by visiting Ackland Upstairs, which will feature a selection from our own collection of Native American art, ranging from an eighteenth-century Cherokee jackal pipe to contemporary editions. Also, The North Carolina Museum of Art will present To Take Shape and Meaning: Form and Design in Contemporary American Indian Art, opening on March 2, 2024.

Art-Inspired Events

Throughout Past Forward, explore the art on view through a variety of interactive programs for all ages featuring the voices of artists, scholars, and other special guests. Links will be posted soon.

Introduction to Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum
Friday, February 16, 2024 | 3:30 p.m.
Led by Peter Nisbet (Ackland Art Museum)

Guest Lecture by W. Richard West, Jr. (Southern Cheyenne), Elder-In-Residence
Wednesday, February 21, 2024 | 4 p.m.
Sponsored by the American Indian Center

A Closer Look at Past Forward
Fridays, February 23, March 1, 8, 15, 22, 29, April 5, 12, 19, 26, 2024

Half-hour guided, conversational tours of Past Forward

F.A.M. Fun in the Galleries: Exploring Past Forward
Sunday, February 25, 2024 | 1-5 p.m.
Family-friendly events and self-guided activities inspired by our current exhibition Past Forward including storytelling with Ryan Dial (Lumbee; American Indian Center)

Film Screening: Gush (dir. Fox Maxy, 2023, Mesa Grande Band of Mission Indians and Payómkawish) preceded by Q&A with the Filmmaker
Thursday, February 29, 2024 | 7:30 p.m. (Varsity Theatre, Downtown Chapel Hill)

Presented by the Ackland Film Forum, UNC Film Studies, and the Cosmic Rays Film Festival

Visiting Scholar: Dr. Shanna Ketchum-Heap of Birds (Diné and Navajo)
Thursday, March 7, 2024 | 5:30 p.m.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Art & Art History as part of the Art History Lecture Series

Art Adventures inspired by Past Forward
Saturday, March 9 & Saturday, April 13, 2024 | 10:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. and 1-2:30 p.m.
Art-making class for 6-9 year olds inspired by works in Past Forward

Take Two Tour of Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum
Saturday, March 23, 2024 | 2 p.m.
Led by Amanda Cobb-Greetham (Chickasaw; American Studies) and Nancy Strickland Fields (Lumbee; Museum of the Southeast American Indian)

Artist Conversation: Caldwell Artists-in-Residence Teri Greeves (Kiowa) and Keri Ataumbi (Kiowa)
Friday, April 12, 2024 | 6 p.m.
With moderator Jami Powell (Osage; PhD ‘18), Curator of Indigenous Art at Dartmouth’s Hood Museum
Sponsored by the Caldwell Family Foundation and co-organized with the Department of American Studies in honor of Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote (Kiowa)

Last Look Tour for Past Forward
Sunday, April 28, 2024 | 3:30 p.m.
Led by Peter Nisbet (Ackland Art Museum)


Logo for Gilcrease Museum

Logo for American Federation of Arts

The exhibition is co-organized by the American Federation of Arts and Gilcrease Museum.

The Ackland’s presentation of this exhibition has been made possible by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust, the Arthur F. and Alice E. Adams Charitable Foundation, and Jeff and Liesl Wilke ’92 (JD).

Logo for Spark the Arts funding programLogo for North Carolina Arts Council

Exhibition-related public programs are supported by a Spark the Arts Grant from the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

Additional support for the Ackland’s presentation of Past Forward: Native American Art from Gilcrease Museum is provided by Kerry D. Bird & Ken Gahagan.

Related Exhibitions and Events

Hanes Visiting Artist Lecture: John Hitchcock (Kiowa/Comanche)
February 8, 2024 | 6 p.m.
Hanes Art Building Room 121, UNC-Chapel Hill

37th Annual Carolina Indian Circle Powwow
Walking in Her Footsteps: A Tribute to Matriarchs
March 2, 2024 | 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
UNC Hooker Fields

To Take Shape and Meaning: Form and Design in Contemporary American Indian Art
March 2-July 28, 2024

North Carolina Museum of Art

Contemporary Indigenous Artists of North Carolina Initiative
VAE Raleigh

Image credit:

Stephen Mopope (Kiowa, 1898-1974), Indian Gathering, 1933, oil on canvas, 22 1/2 x 48 in. (57.2 x 121.9 cm). Gift of the Thomas Gilcrease Foundation, 1964. Gilcrease Museum, Tulsa, OK.