We partner with dozens of cultural organizations yearly. We are a Founding Member of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., Global Sponsor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and serve as the main sponsor of approximately ten museum exhibitions a year.
Access Opera: Open Rehearsals for Students
Leonardo da Vinci
Louvre Museum, Paris
Bank of America is pleased to sponsor Leonardo da Vinci on view October 24, 2019 to February 24, 2020, in the Hall Napoléon at the Louvre, in Paris, France. This major exhibition commemorates the 500-year anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death in France’s Loire Valley.
The Louvre is home to the world’s most extensive collection of Leonardo da Vinci paintings, as well as 22 drawings. The exhibition focuses on five core works—The Virgin of the Rocks, La Belle Ferronnière, La Gioconda (aka Mona Lisa), Saint John the Baptist and Saint Anne—around which additional smaller paintings, drawings, and sculptures will be featured. In 1516, Leonardo was invited to France by King François I who appointed him First Painter, Engineer, and Architect to the King. There, the artist resided and worked at Château du Clos Lucé until his death in 1519. This is why the Louvre holds almost a third of his paintings: those he brought to France were purchased by François I and entered the royal collections, which probably already included The Virgin of the Rocks and La Belle Ferronnière, acquired by Louis XII.
The retrospective will illustrate the importance of painting to Leonardo, and how his investigation of the world, which he referred to as “the science of painting,” was the primary instrument of his art. The latest research findings on the artist’s works, including editions of critical documents and the results of analysis carried out in laboratories and during recent conservation treatments, will also be showcased.
Leonardo da Vinci (Italian, 1452 – 1519)
Portrait of a woman (known as The Beautiful Ferronnière, or forehead pendant), 1495 – 1499
Oil on walnut wood
Paris, Musée du Louvre
Image © RMN-Grand Palais (musée du Louvre) / Michel Urtado
Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again
National Tour Sponsor
Bank of America is pleased to be the National Tour Sponsor for Andy Warhol – From A to B and Back Again, the first and largest Warhol retrospective organized in the United States since 1989. Building on an abundance of new materials and research that has emerged since the artist’s untimely death, this exhibition reveals new discoveries and introduces a Warhol for the twenty-first century.
The bank’s support helps make the exhibition possible in three venues: The Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, from November 12, 2018, through March 31, 2019; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, May 19, 2019, through September 2, 2019; and the Art Institute of Chicago, October 20, 2019, through January 26, 2020.
This major reexamination of the work of Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987) is an opportunity to experience and reconsider the work of this inventive, highly influential artist. The exhibition brings together more than 350 works spanning Warhol’s forty-year career. Through his carefully cultivated persona and willingness to experiment with nontraditional art-making techniques, Warhol understood the growing power of images in modern life and helped to expand the role of the artist in society, making him one of the most distinctive and internationally recognized American artists.
Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987)
Acrylic and silkscreen ink on linen
20” x 16”
The Art Institute of Chicago; gift of Edlis / Neeson Collection
© 2019 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York
Flores Mexicanas: A Lindbergh Love Story
Missouri History Museum
Bank of America is pleased to sponsor Flores Mexicanas: A Lindbergh Love Story on view at the Missouri History Museum from June 1, 2019 through September 2, 2019, a revealing exhibition about the special kinship between the people of Mexico and Charles and Anne Lindbergh, who were regarded as celebrity ambassadors for aviation and for the United States.
Featured in the exhibition is a unique collection of wedding gifts given to the Lindberghs in celebration of their marriage in 1929. The focal point of the exhibit is a gift from Emilio Portes Gill, then president of Mexico—a monumental 9-by-12-foot, ornately framed oil painting entitled Flores Mexicanas, created by Alfredo Ramos Martínez, considered by many to be the Father of Mexican Modernism.
It is the first time in eighty years that Flores Mexicanas will be displayed. With funding from the Bank of America Art Conservation Project, both the painting and the frame underwent an extensive two-year restoration to ensure their preservation. Organized by the Missouri History Museum in collaboration with the University of Missouri–St. Louis’s graduate program in Museums, Heritage, and Public History, the exhibit is presented in English and Spanish.
Alfredo Ramos Martínez (Mexican, 1871 – 1946)
Flores Mexicanas (Mexican Flowers), 1929
Oil on canvas in original frame
108” × 144”
© The Alfredo Ramos Martínez Research Project
Frank Stella: Selections from the Permanent Collection
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA)
Bank of America is proud to sponsor Frank Stella: Selections from the Permanent Collection, on view at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) May 5 – September 15, 2019. Featuring ten seminal works never before shown together—and many of which have not been displayed in more than thirty years—the exhibition highlights the pivotal role Stella has had in the development of modern art over the past sixty years.
Among the selections are works from the artist’s Black Paintings, 1958–60; Irregular Polygon canvases, 1965–66; Protractor paintings, 1967–71; Polish Village series, 1971–73; Exotic Birds, 1976–80; Malta series, 1983–85; and Scarlatti Kirkpatrick series, begun 2006.
Taken together, the selections represent significant developments in Stella’s oeuvre and reflect the ways in which he pushed the boundaries of Abstract Expressionism, blurred distinctions between painting and sculpture, and embraced the use of diverse materials and new techniques.
Bank of America® credit and debit cardholders can see this exhibition for free through our Museums on Us® program.
Now in its twenty-second year, this unique program offers one free general admission to our credit and debit cardholders on the first full weekend of every month. To learn more about Museums on Us®, please click here.
Frank Stella (American, b. 1936)
Oil on canvas
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Gift of Robert H. Halff through the Modern and Contemporary Art Council
© 2019 Frank Stella / Artists Rights Society (ARS) New York. Photo © Museum Associates / LACMA
Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum
Bank of America is pleased to sponsor Artistic License: Six Takes on the Guggenheim Collection, on view at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, from May 24, 2019 through January 12, 2020. The exhibition is in celebration of the sixtieth anniversary of the Guggenheim’s iconic building, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.
Artistic License presents nearly 300 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and installations, some never before exhibited, that engage with the cultural discourses of their time — from the utopian aspirations of early modernism to the formal explorations of mid-century abstraction to the sociopolitical debates of the 1960s and 1970s.
This full-rotunda, six-level presentation features an extensive collection of twentieth-century modern and contemporary artworks curated by six contemporary artists who have helped shape the Guggenheim’s history with their own pivotal solo shows. The artists, Cai Guo-Qiang (b. 1957, Quanzhou, China), Paul Chan (b. 1973, Hong Kong), Richard Prince (b. 1949, Canal Zone, Panama), Julie Mehretu (b. 1970, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia), Carrie Mae Weems (b. 1953, Portland, Oregon) and Jenny Holzer (b. 1950, Gallipolis, Ohio), bring together collection highlights and rarely seen works from the turn of the century to 1980.
Vasily Kandinsky (b. 1866, Moscow; d. 1944, Neuilly-sur-Seine, France)
Pond in the Park, c. 1906
Oil on board
13” x 16 1/8”
Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York
The Hilla Rebay Collection
Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
Bank of America is pleased to sponsor the presentation of powerful artwork by contemporary African American artists at The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri in the exhibition 30 Americans, on view June 1, 2019 to August 25, 2019, and in the museum’s permanent galleries.
Comprised of works from the Rubell Family Collection, the exhibition 30 Americans presents American experiences as told from the distinct perspectives of 30 contemporary African American artists: Nina Chanel Abney, John Bankston, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Mark Bradford, Nick Cave, Robert Colescott, Noah Davis, Leonardo Drew, Renée Green, David Hammons, Barkley L. Hendricks, Rashid Johnson, Glenn Ligon, Kalup Linzy, Kerry James Marshall, Rodney McMillian, Wangechi Mutu, William Pope.L, Rozeal, Gary Simmons, Xaviera Simmons, Lorna Simpson, Shinique Smith, Henry Taylor, Hank Willis Thomas, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Carrie Mae Weems, Kehinde Wiley and Purvis Young.
Through their paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, photographs and videos, these influential artists represent significant voices in the complex dialogues surrounding race, history, identity and beauty that have shaped American art and life for the past four decades. The exhibition employs art as a catalyst for community conversations, which continue in the museum’s permanent galleries through works on view by Kehinde Wiley, Simone Leigh, Vanessa German, Kerry James Marshall, and Jeff Sonhouse.
Although this celebrated exhibition has traveled the country for a decade in various iterations, 30 Americans is tailored to be a unique experience at each venue. Based on each community’s history and in relation to ever-evolving current conversations, 30 Americans remains fresh, powerful and as relevant as ever.
Rashid Johnson (American, b. 1977)
The New Negro Escapist Social and Athletic Club (Thurgood), 2008
Lambda print, Ed. 2/5
69” x 55 1/2”
Courtesy of Rubell Family Collection, Miami. Art © Rashid Johnson.
The Impressionist’s Eye
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Bank of America is pleased to sponsor The Impressionist’s Eye, on view at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from April 16 to August 18, 2019. The exhibition offers visitors a rare opportunity to see a broad range of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist sculpture, painting and works on paper shown together.
Impressionism, the artistic style developed in France in the 1860s, set a new course for bold experiments with color, line, light and form while depicting nature and modern life. Drawing from the Museum’s prized collection, this exhibition will reveal the versatility, experimentation and innovation of these artists and the fluidity with which they moved from one medium to another, while supporting and inspiring one another. This comprehensive survey will feature some seventy works by artists Édouard Manet, Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Claude Monet, Mary Cassatt, Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, Paul Cézanne, Edgar Degas, Vincent van Gogh and others.
Featured in the exhibition is Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s The Large Bathers (1884 – 1887), a painting the artist described as his masterwork. Conservation of this important work was made possible through the Bank of America Art Conservation Project. This is the first conservation treatment of The Large Bathers in more than 75 years, as well as its first technical study.
Treatment will be completed in 2019, the centennial of Renoir’s death. Its preservation will enable the museum to lend the work and share it with audiences outside Philadelphia for the first time in more than a century.
The Philadelphia Museum of Art is also a Bank of America Museums on Us® participant. Now in its 22nd year, this unique program offers one free general admission to our credit and debit cardholders on the first full weekend of every month. To learn more about Museums on Us®, please click here.
Mary Stevenson Cassatt (American, 1844 – 1926)
In the Loge, c. 1879
Pastel with gold metallic paint on canvas
Gift of Mrs. Sargent McKean, 1950
Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940-1950
The Cleveland Museum of Art
Bank of America is proud to sponsor the traveling exhibition Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940–1950, on view at the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Fort Worth, Texas from September 14 to December 29, 2019.
Next, the exhibition will travel to the Addison Gallery of American Art, Phillips Academy, in Andover, Massachusetts from February 1 to April 26, 2020. The exhibition debuted at the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. and was recently on view at The Cleveland Museum of Art.
The exhibition, the first to chronicle the formative beginnings of African American photographer Gordon Parks’ (1912–2006) distinguished career, provides a detailed look at his early evolution through some 150 photographs, as well as rare magazines, newspapers, pamphlets, and books.
Gordon Parks: The New Tide, Early Work 1940–1950 is divided into five sections. A Choice of Weapons (1940–1942) includes portraits of influential Chicago figures, including South Side Community Art Center director Peter Pollack, renowned poet and playwright Langston Hughes, philosophy professor and architect of the New Negro movement Alain Locke, and opera singer Todd Duncan. Government Work (1942) features photographs created during his short time with the Farm Security Administration. Parks was tasked with photographing the Frederick Douglass Dwellings—quality public housing recently constructed in DC's Anacostia neighborhood for black defense workers.
While the exhibition features his promotional pictures of federal efforts to improve conditions for African Americans, also documented are the continuing effects of racism in DC, perhaps best personified by his now iconic portrait, Washington, D.C. Government charwoman.
The Home Front (1942–1943) presents examples of Parks' projects for the Office of War Information, including photographs of fishermen in Gloucester, Massachusetts and the Fulton Fish Market in New York City, as part of a series on food production during World War II.
Standard Oil (1944–1948), features photographs Parks produced for Roy Stryker in his new role at Standard Oil Company (New Jersey), capturing “the face of oil” in the northeast of the United States and parts of Canada.
Mass Media (1945–1950), focuses on Parks' photography for major fashion and lifestyle magazines as well as Parks’ chronicling of youth gangs in Harlem, which would lead to the publishing by Life magazine of his photo essay, "Harlem Gang Leader", and a staff position for Parks with the magazine.
Gordon Parks (American, 1912 – 2006)
Charles White in front of his mural “Chaos of the American Negro”, 1941
Gelatin silver print
7 13/16” × 9 7/16”
The Charles White Archives
Photograph by Gordon Parks. Courtesy of and copyright The Gordon Parks Foundation.
Access Opera: Open Rehearsals for Students
The Metropolitan Opera
More than 80 years ago, the Metropolitan Opera hosted its first student performance, inaugurating its long history of welcoming students to the house through attendance at final dress rehearsals. A joint program between the Metropolitan Opera and the Metropolitan Opera Guild, Access Opera: Open Rehearsals for Students now draws 15,000 students annually from across the New York tri-state area, as well as from Vermont and Pennsylvania. With curriculum support materials and teacher training workshops, along with ushers and staff guides at the front of the house, the Met aims to make students’ experiences at the opera house welcoming, entertaining, and educational.
During the 2017–18 season, 195 participating schools from five states attended 13 final dress rehearsals, with the cost of tickets greatly subsidized to make them accessible for schools. Inviting students to experience the cutting-edge stagecraft and the highest level of artistry of the Metropolitan Opera at its home in Lincoln Center is an essential part of the Met’s mission.
Major sponsorship of the Metropolitan Opera’s Access Opera:
Open Rehearsals for Students program is provided by Bank of America.
Željko Lučić as Scarpia and Sonya Yoncheva in the title role of Puccini’s Tosca
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera
Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative
Lead corporate sponsor
Bank of America is proud to support the Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI). Recognizing that the loss of cultural heritage can be psychologically and socioeconomically devastating, its mission is to protect cultural heritage threatened or impacted by human-made or natural disasters and to help communities in the U.S. and around the world preserve their identities and history.
When announcing the sponsorship, Bank of America chairman and CEO Brian Moynihan, stated, “Bank of America stands by the passionate and brave men and women who work, sometimes at personal risk, to protect cherished treasures for future generations.”
Since its founding in 2010, the program has recovered and conserved more than 50,000 pieces of endangered cultural material around the world.
After the devastating earthquake that occurred in Haiti in January 2010, which killed more than 250,000 Haitians, and left 1.5 million people homeless, the Institution launched the Haiti Cultural Recovery Project, working in partnership with the government of Haiti’s Ministry of Culture and Communication. Over the course of eighteen months, many important collections of art, artifacts, museum objects, architectural features, documents, film, photographs, video, and sound recordings were successfully rescued, recovered, and safeguarded.
Following hurricanes Sandy, Harvey, and Maria, SCRI projects have helped individuals and institutions learn how to rescue, restore, and safeguard a wide range of culturally significant artifacts storm-ravaged states such as New York and Texas, and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico.
The SCRI is also active in war-torn countries, engaged in cultural rescue work and in educating governmental agencies and cultural heritage professionals as well as military personnel connected to museums, monuments, and other treasured historic sites. From risk assessment and emergency planning to damage mitigation, SCRI projects have been instrumental in preserving cultural heritage in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Nepal and Mali.
Smithsonian Cultural Rescue Initiative (SCRI)
Nepalese military and cultural heritage professionals team up to rescue architectural fragments at a temple in Kathmandu.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Presenting Sponsor of Performances for Young Audiences
National Sponsor of Theater for Young Audiences on Tour
Bank of America is proud to be the Presenting Sponsor of Performances for Young Audiences at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., for the 2018–2019 season and the 2018–2019 National Sponsor for the Kennedy Center’s Theater for Young Audiences on Tour.
In Washington, D.C., the Kennedy Center brings to the stage 17 productions of compelling theater, lively music and energetic dance for family members ages three and up. Among the highlights are several newly commissioned world premieres, many featuring young protagonists with whom the audience can identify.
The season begins with American Revolution. From October 12 to 14, 2018, seven actors from the imaginative physical theater group within Chicago’s award-winning Theater Unspeakable tell the story of the American Revolution.
Confined to an elevated, 21-square-foot miniature stage, using only their bodies to convey the action, and with just 50 minutes to perform, the group takes audiences on a fun and daring journey from Lexington to Yorktown.
The first of four plays commissioned by the Kennedy Center, Long Way Down, running from October 27 to 29, 2018, will sweep up audiences in the gripping and suspenseful story of a 15-year-old boy determined to avenge the death of his brother, who has just been shot outside of their apartment building.
Running from January 11 to 13, 2019, is Cartography, created by two artists who have worked with refugees around the world. Christopher Myers and Kaneza Schaal, together with New York-based company ArKtype, explore the lives of child refugees seeking a better life and the role that we all play in contributing to global migration.
The second Kennedy Center-commissioned play is How to Catch a Star, a multimedia and movement-based adaptation of the New York Times best-selling children’s picture book authored by Oliver Jeffers. Created and directed by Obie Award-winner Jared Mezzocchi, the play explores the wonders of friendship, discovery and chasing their dreams.
The third play commissioned by the Kennedy Center is She a Gem, running from February 15 to 24, 2019. Created by award-winning writer Josh Wilder, the play tells the story of four young women, living together in a transition home in an inner-city Philadelphia neighborhood, who come together to form a double-Dutch team to compete in a neighborhood pageant.
From March 15 to 24, 2019, the final Kennedy Center-commissioned play debuts, The Watsons go to Birmingham — 1963. Based on the work of historical fiction written by Christopher Paul Curtis, the story has been adapted into a staged concert reading created by Christina Ham. At a turbulent time in the history of the Civil Rights movement, a Flint, Michigan, family heads to Birmingham, Alabama, to spend the summer. Told from the point of view of 10-year-old Kenny, the story conveys the dramatic effects the 1963 Birmingham church bombing has in bringing a family together and enduring a tragic era in American history.
Kennedy Center’s Theater for Young Audiences on Tour will kick off in early 2019 with Me…Jane: The Dreams & Adventures of Young Jane Goodall. Audiences will be treated to a musical about the early and influential years of primatologist, conservationist and animal rights activist Jane Goodall. Follow young Jane and her toy chimpanzee Jubilee as they learn about the world around them and the importance of protecting all living species.
John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Performances for Young Audiences
Chicago Symphony Orchestra
As part of our ongoing commitment to the arts, Bank of America is proud to continue as the Global Sponsor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
Founded in 1891, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (CSO) is widely regarded as one of the world’s greatest orchestras. Bank of America’s global partnership with the CSO began with the historic 2010/11 season, when Maestro Riccardo Muti began his tenure as Music Director. Muti’s dedication to bringing live symphonic music of the highest caliber to the broadest possible audience has served as the cornerstone of the CSO’s mission.
Bank of America’s support encompasses the CSO main series classical concerts at Chicago’s Symphony Center; two signature fundraising events, Symphony Ball and Corporate Night; their annual free Concert for Chicago; and the CSO on Tour, both domestic and international.
Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture
Founding Member and Dedicated Supporter
September 24, 2016, marked a signature moment in the history of the United States when the only national museum devoted to African American history and culture opened on the Washington Mall after more than twelve years of planning and development. Following an Act of Congress in 2003, which sought to establish the museum, work to raise funds and develop the museum’s plans began in earnest. The National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) is the nineteenth Smithsonian Institution museum.
In 2011, a museum Council was formed. Brian Moynihan, Bank of America CEO, became one of its founding members. We would go on to become a founding donor in 2014 and to sponsor many of the historic opening events that took place throughout the fall of 2016.
Bank of America was an early supporter of the development of the museum. In 2013, we sponsored Save our African American Treasures, a national program dedicated to supporting historians, cultural anthropologists, and experts from the art world to identify and preserve items of historical and cultural significance tucked away in the attics, closets and basements of Americans across the country. Recognizing the significance of these artifacts, some owners chose to donate them to the museum, while others benefited from receiving an invaluable education on the meaning, value, and proper safekeeping of their treasured possessions.
Through the Art Conservation Project, Bank of America provided funding for the conservation of nine noteworthy works by African American artists. The works are featured in Visual Art and the American Experience, the only permanent art exhibition on the Smithsonian Mall dedicated to illustrating the critical role American artists of African descent played in shaping the history of American art.
From the Bank of America Collection, we were pleased to donate more than sixty photographs by Jeanne Moutoussamy-Ashe, the distinguished artist who, from 1977 through 1982, documented the unique culture of the Gullah community of Daufuskie Island in South Carolina.
In September of 2017, Bank of America signed on to become one of the sponsors of the museum’s first anniversary celebration. Most recently, we were proud to sponsor of one of the museum’s Black History Month discussions, Finding Common Ground.
Co-hosted by The National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Museum of the American Indian on February 15, and moderated by Michel Martin, weekend host of NPR’s All Things Considered, Finding Common Ground focused on the complex, sometimes fraught, history of African Americans and Native Americans, and how their intertwined stories and experiences have become an essential part of the American identity. Speakers included Lonnie G. Bunch III, Founding Director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and Kevin Gover, Director of the National Museum of the American Indian.
Season Sponsor and NYO-USA supporter
Bank of America is the Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall, the world’s most famous concert hall, and a proud supporter of NYO-USA.
Carnegie Hall’s 2018–2019 season features approximately 170 performances by many of the world’s leading artists and ensembles in classical, pop, jazz, and world music, plus a broad range of innovative education and social impact programs created by Carnegie Hall’s Weill Music Institute (WMI), serving audiences in New York City and beyond.
Carnegie Hall’s mission is to bring the transformative power of music to the widest possible audience by featuring extraordinary performances on its three stages, leading visionary educational programs, and promoting the cultivation of rising musical artists and new works to attract a broad array of audiences.
In support of its mission, WMI created the National Youth Orchestra of the United States of America (NYO-USA), composed of the best instrumentalists, ages 16 to 19, to nurture the next generation of musical artists. Following a comprehensive audition process and a three-week training residency with leading professional orchestral musicians, these select teenagers will embark on a tour of some of the greatest musical capitals in the world, while serving as dynamic music ambassadors representing the future of music.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater
International Tour Sponsor
Since 2011, Bank of America has supported Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater as their International Tour Sponsor.
Our support of this major American performing arts organization to tour internationally is part of Bank of America’s efforts to increase cultural understanding and open opportunities for dialogue through the arts.
Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater was founded in 1958 by dancer/choreographer Alvin Ailey to share the richness of the African-American cultural experience and the American modern dance tradition with the world. At each destination, thousands of people enjoy masterful performances and share cultural experiences with fellow audiences across the globe. Recognized by the U.S. Congress as a vital “Cultural Ambassador to the World,” the company has performed for more than 23 million people in 48 states and 71 countries on six continents.
Bank of America is proud to support Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 2019 International Tour.
Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations
Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Bank of America is pleased to sponsor Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations, on view at The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian from September 21, 2014, through fall 2018.
Nation to Nation, 10 years in the making, brings together the largest historical collection of treaties made between the United States and American Indian Nations, along with more than 125 related artifacts, photographs and contemporary objects. It is divided into five chapters: Introduction to Treaties; Serious Diplomacy; Bad Acts, Bad Paper; Great Nations Keep Their Word; and The Future of Treaties.
Introduction to Treaties provides an overview of the vastly different perspectives held between non-native settlers and Native Americans, from concepts of land ownership, civic organization and leadership to the very nature and purpose of diplomacy.
Serious Diplomacy reveals the initial good intentions of settlers of the early republic, seeking security and peaceful coexistence. One of the earliest treaties on display is the Treaty of Canandaigua, signed in 1794 by members of the Iroquois Confederacy, Cornplanter, Red Jacket and Handsome Lake, and President George Washington. It allowed for the establishment of Indian territories and provided annual compensation to tribes in exchange for free passage through their lands and access to their harbors and rivers.
Bad Acts, Bad Paper highlights the events that transpired in the 1800s, when the United States’ territorial ambitions led it to craft treaties designed to confiscate Indian lands and push Native Nations west of the Mississippi. These nations also fell victim to the competing interests and conflicts between individual states and the federal government. Many states sought and won exemptions from federal treaties and went on to take the law, and Indian territories, into their own hands.
Great Nations Keep Their Word focuses on the 1900s, when the surviving Native Nations more successfully appealed for the enforcement of treaties and their rights. Efforts by Congress to nullify many pre-existing treaties were met with strong opposition and eventual defeat, while others would ultimately be struck down in U.S. courts. These victories helped to restore both the dignity and self-determination of the Native Nations.
The Future of Treaties focuses on the impact that existing treaties continue to have on relations between the United States and Native Nations and points to a future likely to be filled with both struggle and hope.
Thomas Jefferson peace medal, 1801, owned by Powder Face (Northern Inunaina/Arapaho), Oklahoma Bronze Copper alloy, hide, porcupine quills, feathers, dye, metal cones
Photo credit: Walter Larrimore
Ambrogio Maestri in the title role of Verdi’s Falstaff
Photo: Ken Howard/Metropolitan Opera