Friday, August 11, 2017 at 8 a.m.
Navajo, First Phase Ute-Style Chief Blanket, 1800-1850. Handspun wool, natural colors, indigo dye. 53 x 71 inches. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection at the Heard Museum, 196BL.
The Heard Museum recently received a $300,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The grant will fund fellowships focused on preserving Navajo textiles.
The New York City foundation launched in 1969 to further the contributions of the arts and humanities to diverse and democratic societies.
“We’re excited because the grant gives us an opportunity to take a closer look at our textile collection,” says Diana Pardue, curator of collections for Heard Museum.
The museum’s collection currently includes approximately 1,500 Southwestern textiles, Pardue says. About 1,200 of those are Navajo textiles, which are typically created on a vertical loom.
“Navajo weavers have a long history of creating vibrant designs,” Pardue says.
The grant, which was awarded on June 1, will fund a new initiative called Opening a Window: The Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship Program.
In conservation circles, the phrase “opening a window” refers to finding a small sample site for testing.
Through the program, paid fellows will work with Navajo weavers, museum curatorial staff, conservators, and textile specialists. Together, they’ll be assessing and conserving Navajo textiles in the museum’s collection.
“We have a good, broad collection from different time periods, including many textiles woven as garments and some woven as rugs,” Pardue says.
Conservation is important, she says, because…
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