Jewelry making has long been an important part of the lives of Southwest Native peoples. During the last 50 years, Native jewelers in the Southwest—Navajos in particular—have created a contemporary aesthetic that draws on traditional materials and reflects the persistence of cultural values such as beauty, centering, and balance.
Glittering World presents the story of Navajo jewelry through the lens of the gifted Yazzie family of Gallup, New Mexico—one of the most celebrated jewelry making families of our time. The silver, gold, and stone inlay work of Lee Yazzie and his younger brother, Raymond, has won every major award in the field. Their sister Mary Marie makes outstanding jewelry that combines fine bead- and stonework; silver beads are handmade by other sisters.
Glittering World—featuring almost 300 examples of contemporary jewelry made by several members of the Yazzie family—shows how the family’s art flows from their Southwest environs and strong connection to their Navajo culture. With historic pieces from the museum’s collections, the exhibition places Navajo jewelry making within its historical context of art and commerce, illustrates its development as a form of cultural expression, and explores the meanings behind its symbolism.
A diverse and multifaceted cultural and educational enterprise, the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) is an active and visible component of the Smithsonian Institution, the world's largest museum complex. The NMAI cares for one of the world's most expansive collections of Native artifacts, including objects, photographs, archives, and media covering the entire Western Hemisphere, from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego.
The National Museum of the American Indian operates three facilities. The museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., offers exhibition galleries and spaces for performances, lectures and symposia, research, and education. The George Gustav Heye Center (GGHC) in New York City houses exhibitions, research, educational activities, and performing arts programs. The Cultural Resources Center (CRC) in Suitland, Maryland, houses the museum's collections as well as the conservation, repatriation, and digital imaging programs, and research facilities. The NMAI's off-site outreach efforts, often referred to as the "fourth museum," include websites, traveling exhibitions, and community programs.
Since the passage of its enabling legislation in 1989 (amended in 1996), the NMAI has been steadfastly committed to bringing Native voices to what the museum writes and presents, whether on-site at one of the three NMAI venues, through the museum's publications, or via the Internet. The NMAI is also dedicated to acting as a resource for the hemisphere's Native communities and to serving the greater public as an honest and thoughtful conduit to Native cultures—present and past—in all their richness, depth, and diversity.
The National Museum of the American Indian–New York, the George Gustav Heye Center, is located within the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House. The museum’s permanent and temporary exhibitions—as well as a range of public programs, including music and dance performances, films, and symposia—explore the diversity of the Native people of the Americas.
The museum is open 10 AM–5 PM daily, Thursdays to 8 PM; closed December 25. Admission is free. Floor plans
are available for download and printing.