The Art of the Americas collection provides unique perspectives into cultures and civilizations that thrived in the Western hemisphere long before the Spanish conquest. Most objects in these collections date between 200 BC and the mid-16th century AD, with a strong focus in Mesoamerican and Andean art. Almost all of these ancient arts were used in religious or funerary contexts. As a result of the historic Harald Wagner bequest, the de Young is home to the largest and most important group of Teotihuacan murals outside of Mexico. Additional highlights from the Art of the Americas include Maya and West Mexico artworks generously donated by Gail and Alec Merriam and the Lewis K. Land family; an extraordinary bequest of exemplary Inuit and Eskimo art from the Thomas G. Fowler collection; and pueblo pottery from the Paul E. and Barbara H. Weiss collection.
The Thomas W. Weisel Family Collection is an extraordinary anthology of Native American art spanning nearly a thousand years of artistic production, from 11th-century Mimbres ceramics to 19th-century baskets and pots by recognized artists such as the Hopi-Tewa artist Nampeyo, as well as additional masterworks of Navajo weaving.
This significant gift allows the de Young to present a comprehensive survey of Native American art with a distinctly Western focus, stretching from the Arctic Circle to the American Southwest. Included in the collection are more than 50 objects made by artists working in the Mimbres ceramic tradition, practiced from roughly AD 1000 to 1150; Navajo blankets—including two rare first-phase examples (ca. 1820s‒50s)—and several classic-period Navajo serapes; major pieces of monumental Northwest Coast art; and the first Plains ledger drawings to enter the Museums’ permanent holdings.