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Selections from the Bishop Whipple Collection of American Indian Art

Exhibit Features Rare and Beautiful Ojects, Well Documented, with Rich Histories

In 1859, Henry Whipple became the first Episcopal Bishop of Minnesota. Throughout his long tenure, he established the Seabury Divinity School, Shattuck School for Boys and St. Mary’s Hall for Girls, now Shattuck-St. Mary’s of Faribault.

As a missionary, he believed it was essential for native people to adopt Christianity. But he also served as an advocate, dedicating himself to reforming United States policies toward American Indians and creating lasting relationships in the process. Through these relationships, and from his own collecting, he amassed hundreds of arts and crafts objects from American Indians in Minnesota and from across the nation.

“Selections from the Bishop Whipple Collection of American Indian Art,” on view Feb. 15 – April 13, is presented in cooperation with the Science Museum of Minnesota.

The exhibit highlights the extraordinary range and beauty of these objects, many from Ojibwe and Dakota people with accompanying documentation, including photographs of the Indian artist. The stories attached to the objects and the objects themselves provide a look at American Indian art at a crucial moment in 19th-century Minnesota history, and illuminate Bishop Whipple’s roles as a religious figure, government representative and collector.

The exhibit features examples of traditional quillwork, beaded garments, bandolier bags, as well as a variety of objects and lace produced at mission schools in Minnesota. Many of these items have never before been on display. Where possible, the provenance is displayed alongside the art object.

The exhibit includes 40 selected items from the collection of nearly 500 pieces, which is currently housed at the Science Museum of Minnesota and at the Minnesota Historical Society. Additional items in the exhibit are on loan from Shattuck-St. Mary’s School, Rice County Historical Society, St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral and The Cathedral of Our Merciful Saviour.