Coming to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum

Colorful Native American ceramic works bridge the gap between cultural tradition and art.

The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum presents Colors of Clay, Aug. 30 – May 10, 2020; the exhibition will explore the cultural and regional diversity of Native American ceramic traditions in North America. 

Visitors are invited to experience the 60 one-of-a-kind, vibrantly colored pieces that were sculpted with absolute precision. Clay pots, bowls, pitchers and jars, which were once seen as a necessity of daily life, are seen today as one of the most notable Native American art forms. The exhibition allows visitors to get hands-on with the various interactive educational elements throughout, and a sitting area will be available for those who want to take an extra minute to be surrounded by the breath-taking colorful art.

These ceramic pieces made from earth, water and natural dyes are works of art and should be viewed not only as a cultural tradition dating back thousands of years but also as an artistic medium equal to oil paintings, watercolors or sculpture. The skilled hands of an artist take the piece from its beginnings as clay into a beautiful work of art steeped in ancestral methods while creating unique shapes and intricate designs.

“The story of each vessel is told in colors and designs that will delight the imaginations of Museum visitors of all ages,” said Natalie Shirley, Museum President & CEO. “The process of how these pieces evolved from simple, raw organic materials sculpted by hand into inspiring works of Native American art is something that will resonate with everyone who sees them.”

Paired with the exhibition will be a collection of wall images from famed 19th-century photographer Edward J. Curtis. He was considered to be an authority on Native Americans, which is evident, by his body of work that focuses primarily on Native American people and the American West. Several short videos will be playing as part of the exhibition to help educate visitors on various ceramic processes such as firing and other artistic techniques.

About the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
The National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City is America’s premier institution of Western history, art and culture. Founded in 1955, the Museum collects, preserves and exhibits an internationally renowned collection of Western art and artifacts while sponsoring dynamic educational programs to stimulate interest in the enduring legacy of the American West. For more information, visit