Ancestors

Ancestors: Ancient Native American Sculptures of Tennessee

An exhibition of ancient Native American statues, on view together for the first time, is currently on view at the Tennessee State Museum. Admission is free.

Ancestors showcases a Pre-Columbian stone statuary tradition that was found primarily between the Tennessee and Cumberland rivers. The statues were often found in ancestral pairs, each containing a male and a female.  All have long been separated since their discovery, and most have been taken far outside the state. The exhibit, which will reunite some of the pairs, will include many which have never been shown.

The exhibit features a male sculpture considered to be among the greatest pieces of ancestral Native American art found in the United States. At 19” high, he has made way onto numerous covers of books and magazines, and is included on a U.S. postage stamp for the Art of the American Indian series. In 2014, this statue on loan from the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, officially became recognized as the State Artifact. He joins his female mate, which has been graciously loaned by John C. Waggoner, Jr. of Carthage, Tennessee. They were discovered at the Sellars Farm State Archaeological Area in Wilson County, Tennessee, which was once a Native American village from the Mississippian period occupied approximately 700 to 1,000 years ago. 

The 28 stone sculptures in this exhibit represent the largest group of Tennessee-Cumberland style statuary, including 14 from the Smithsonian Institution in Washington D.C., two from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, two from the McClung Museum, five from the State Museum’s collection, and five that are held in private collections.

Ancestors: Ancient Native American Sculptures of Tennessee will be on view in the museum’s Changing Galleries through May 15, 2016. 

Watch NPT Arts Break on “Ancestors: Ancient Native American Sculptures of Tennessee,” on YouTube

Pictured above: Pre-Columbian male sculpture from the collection of the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Tennessee. Photograph courtesy of David H. Dye

Click here to learn about a special May 1 presentation, “Speaking with the Ancestors,” at the State Museum





tn4me

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120

FREE ADMISSION

Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org

 

 

 





tn4me

Tennessee State Museum
505 Deaderick Street
Nashville, TN 37243-1120

FREE ADMISSION

Open: Tuesday - Saturday:
10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday: 1 to 5 p.m.
Closed: Mondays and four holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, and Christmas Day.

(615) 741-2692
TOLL-FREE: 800-407-4324
museuminfo@tnmuseum.org