Art museums offer us a glimpse of history and culture of different countries from all over the world through the medium of art and are an excellent way for the present generation to gain knowledge and improve our understanding of various historically important eras. Museums often display collections of art for the audience to appreciate and analyse the artist’s work and also give us insight on the evolution of human race throughout the centuries. During my visit to the Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture, I studied the exquisite works of art with keen interest which considerably improved my understanding of the different aspects and types of art.
Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture (MAC) houses exhibits revolving around American Indian and other cultures, regional history and visual art. Being a first time visitor to this museum, I had my fair share of doubts and apprehensions so before I visited the museum I made a rough plan with ideas chalked out broadly about what all I wanted to see. I visited the museum on a weekday in order to avoid huge queues and overflow of people. As I entered one of the galleries, I was a little awe struck and it took me a while to adjust myself to the beauty and creativity which the artists exhibited there.
The first exhibit I liked is called George Small (Rocky boy) and Son by photographer Richard T. Lewis. It showed a tribal man holding a small baby. While there was very little information regarding the photograph, it kind of attracted me and I felt as if the people in the painting were speaking to me. The man was from the Blackfoot tribe (Native American) and it made me go home and search more details about the same which increased my knowledge about the Blackfoot Indians. They are the original residents of the northern Plains, particularly Montana, Idaho, and Alberta, Canada. Most Blackfoot people are still residing in those regions today. Honestly, I’m not very well versed with the Native American history so this photograph really made me curious about this tribe and their history and culture in general which made me research more about it. I think that is the beauty of museums. More often than not we retain some part of the visual we witnessed and then reflect more on it and dig deeper into the details.
I walked around a bit in the gallery and then came across a very interesting photograph showing a big group of men (mostly workers with shabby clothes) in a tavern having beer. The title made me more curious and i understood from the details under the title Kodak Moments that the company Kodak in 1900 introduced cheap cameras prices at $1 to promote snapshot photography and make it available to the common people. Their catchy slogan was “You press the button, we do the rest”. This led to a great number of people taking into photography and this museum has a significant number of images of the Northwest Inland taken by various photographers, both professions and hobbyists, showing their culture and legacy. This may have marked a new beginning or as we call a revolution in the history of photography as these small changes and reforms always bring about a general change in the likings or interests of people.
Another photograph that I particularly liked was again by Richard T. Lewis captioned Catherine Pascal and Her Mother Cecile Pascal (1991). Initially it looked like a simple mother daughter photograph but there was an aura of simplicity and charm in this photograph. It was the picture of an old midwife called Celine Pascal who served many Indian and white families by delivering babies during the 1900s and as common families do, she also passed her skills to her daughter Catherine who is accompanying her in the picture. This photograph shows how culture and our social set up leads to the continuation of family tradition in different societies irrespective of the geographical location. The social norms are set in a way that people often do not explore the other and mostly better possibilities that may arrive in their life for a better future. Rather they follow their family legacy and the chain continues.
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