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Art of the Ancient Americas at the Springfield Museums

The Body Adorned: Artistry and Legacy of the Ancient Americas is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as part of the Art Bridges Initiative

Published on November 24, 2021

The Springfield Museums presents The Body Adorned: Artistry and Legacy of the Ancient Americas, December 4, 2021-February 27, 2022 in the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts. Never before featured at the Museums, this is a must-see opportunity to view the remarkably crafted accessories of ancient cultures from Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Mexico and understand the ongoing influence of their artistry.

Feather textiles, gold pendants, and greenstone ear rods are among the most exquisite adornments crafted by artists working in the ancient Americas. Designed to be worn both in life and in death, these treasures functioned as status symbols, ritual paraphernalia, and sacred channels to a more sublime realm. Often small in scale and intricately crafted, the adornments featured in this exhibition were created in sophisticated workshops by highly skilled artists. These splendid works of art offer insight into the values, beliefs, and achievements of indigenous peoples.

This exhibition will explore the artistic adornment of the ancient American cultures of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Mexico, as well as the influence that metalwork, textiles, and ceramics had on future generations of artists. In addition to including work made between 400 and 1500 AD, the display will include works by 20th century American designer and jewelry maker William Spratling (1900-1967), who spent over three decades in Mexico and was inspired by Mesoamerican art and architecture. The display will explore the enduring power of these brilliant motifs, and bring together different eras in dialogue.

“This exhibition, The Body Adorned, is the result of a meaningful partnership between the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Springfield Museums, which is supported by the Art Bridges Initiative. This collaboration allows the MFA Boston to share its collection with a wide audience and to learn from colleagues at other institutions,” said Martina Tanga, Curatorial Research and Interpretation Associate.

Culture Editor