Light and Legacy: The Art of Edward Curtis

Coming October 19, 2021

Mosa – Mohave, 1903 
From The North American Indian
Volume 2, Portfolio Plate no. 61
The Peterson Family Collection

Upcoming in 2021:

Light and Legacy: The Art of Edward S. Curtis

The greatly anticipated exhibition, Light and Legacy: The Art of Edward S. Curtis will be featured in the Halle Foundation Great Hall and the Pulliam Fine Arts Gallery opening to the public on October 19, 2021, with sponsorship from Charles F., Jennifer E., and John U. Sands; Scottsdale Art Auction; and the City of Scottsdale and its Tourism Development Commission.


In the early decades of the 20th century, Edward S. Curtis’ (1868-1952) The North American Indian project became the largest anthropological enterprise ever undertaken in the United States. From the 1890s on, Curtis took thousands of photographs of Native Americans all across the American West, yielding his monumental work The North American Indian (1907-1930), an illustrated publication of photographs in 20 volumes. The project was supported by Theodore Roosevelt and funded in part by J. Pierpont Morgan, and inspired photography exhibitions, postcards, magazine articles, books for young readers, lecture series, a “musicale,” and the very first feature-length narrative documentary film, In the Land of the Head-Hunters (1914).


Light and Legacy: The Art of Edward S. Curtis, which is predominantly on loan from The Peterson Family Collection and organized by collector and Museum Trustee Tim Peterson, will become known around the world for offering museum guests for the first time an opportunity to view the largest Curtis exhibition to date that includes such a breadth and depth of diversity of the photographers’ work and lifetime achievements. On display will be the twenty-volume publication The North American Indian – world-renowned for its huge scale as it is devoted to more than 80 different Native American peoples living West of the Mississippi River, and richly illustrated with both text and photographs; photogravures; original copper plates from which the photogravures were printed; goldtones; original photographs including platinum prints; silver bromides; silver gelatins; cyanotypes; glass plate negatives; and a variety of ephemera. Visitors will hear musical recordings that have been selected from thousands that were originally recorded by Curtis and his field team, and were considered by Curtis as part of his ethnological data for The North American Indian.


Throughout the years, Curtis’ work has been both influential and controversial, and we hope you join us in October 2021 for this nearly year-long Edward S. Curtis exhibition that is timely, as well as an intimate and informative look at the photographer whose work reveals one of the most significant contributions to the presentation of Native peoples of North America in the early 20th century.


Light and Legacy: The Art of Edward Curtis will be exhibited in the Halle Foundation Great Hall and the Pulliam Fine Arts Gallery