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Museum receives huge Native American art collection

SHELBURNE (AP) – A Vermont museum has acquired a more than 200-piece collection of Native American art and is planning to construct a USD12.6-million facility to house the pieces that make up a rare national collection in the Northeast.

The collection donated to the Shelburne Museum is comprised of late 19th and early 20th Century pottery, beadwork, clothing and weavings predominantly from Plains and Southwest communities, and combined with its existing Native American collection represents nearly 80 tribes, the museum said.

“Together, the two collections are over 500 items and that’s a center of gravity, which is fairly important for northern New England,” said museum director and Chief Executive Officer Thomas Denenberg.

The 906-square-metre building – called the Perry Center for Native American Art – will be designed by Adjaye Associates, an internationally known firm that designed the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. The building is slated to open in the spring of 2026 and “planned to be a highly sustainable pavilion designed to support the culturally appropriate interpretation and care of Indigenous material culture”, the museum said in a statement.

Museum officials have consulted on the project with the leaders of the four bands of the state-recognised Abenaki tribes in Vermont.

“The museum’s collaborative approach to stewardship of the Native American collection and construction of the Perry Center for Native American Art is commendable,” chief of the Nulhegan Band of the Coosuk Abenaki Nation Don Stevens said in a statement. “Like the museum, we see this project as an opportunity to bring more people to Shelburne and the region from across the country and internationally to study, learn about and experience Native American art and material culture.”

A dough bowl made in the Zia Pueblo in New Mexico displayed at the Shelburne Museum, United States. PHOTO: AP