Long focused on contemporary American Indian art, the Gorman Museum of Native American Art at the University of California, Davis will feature as its first exhibit in a newly expanded space works by 20 California Indian artists when it reopens with a celebratory weekend in late September.

One of the few U.S. museums centered on contemporary Native American art, the Gorman collection contains more than 2,250 works, most created since 1980, and it’s within an easy drive on Interstate 80 from Vacaville and Vallejo.

After a ribbon-cutting ceremony at noon on Sept. 22, the museum, while also marking its 50th anniversary, will open to the public at 2 p.m. The next day’s events will include music, dance and other performances from noon to 4 p.m. The museum will be open noon to 5 p.m. on weekends and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Admission is free.

“Since its founding, the museum has been a unique and important place for telling the story of the continuing artistic accomplishments of Native Americans,” Estella Atekwana, dean of the UC Davis College of Letters and Science, said in a press statement. “The greatly expanded museum in a more visible and accessible location stands to make an even greater impact during the coming decades.”

At its new location just off I-80, in the UC Davis Gateway cultural corridor along Old Davis Road, the museum will occupy four times its former space, some 4,000 square feet.

Along with room for temporary exhibitions, it features a gallery displaying works from the collection on a rotating basis and a visible storage area to give visitors access to the collection.

“UC Davis has a long history as a home for Native American artistry, including visual and performing arts,” Chancellor Gary S. May added in the prepared statement from the campus news service. “This spacious location near the campus gateway is an ideal place to showcase the influence and contributions of Native people for generations to come.”

Committed to contemporary Native American art, the museum houses a collection of contemporary paintings, photography, ceramics, textiles and original prints. Among the artists represented in the collection are Kenojuak Ashevak, D.Y. Begay, Rick Bartow, Robert Davidson, Oscar Howe, Lucy Lewis, Lee Marmon, George Morrison, Bill Reid, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and Kay WalkingStick.

Since its founding in 1973, the museum has shown works by a wide range of established and emerging artists, with 225 group and 88 solo exhibitions, and also has developed touring exhibitions.

“The year 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of the Gorman Museum and continuing supporting contemporary Native American artists who create art as a continuum of Native American presence,” said Hulleah Tsinhnahjinnie, museum director and professor in the Department of Native American Studies. “The renovated space was manifested and realized into reality by a dedicated community of local, inter-tribal artists and allies who embrace the power of Native American art as a site to continue the creative and intellectual conversations that were interrupted by tropes and bias.”

What: Gorman Museum of Native American Art reopening
When: Noon, Sept. 22
Where: UC Davis Gateway cultural corridor, Old Davis Road, Davis
Cost: Free


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