Philbrook Museum of Art’s satellite location, Philbrook Downtown, is the perfect venue for the work of Allan Houser. The early 20th-century industrial warehouse contains three distinct but interrelated initiatives: the display of Modern and contemporary art and Native American art, as well as a robust research and programming agenda. The modern well-lit setting provides an ideal environment for all works displayed. Currently on view, Identity & Inspiration: 20th Century Native American Art, features more than 150 works in a semi-permanent installation from the Museum’s collection. It represents a continuation of Philbrook’s commitment to exhibiting significant examples of works by important Native artists whose influence reaches far beyond their communities and their lifetimes. It highlights the artistic achievement of these individuals and explores some of the motivations influencing their creative processes. Rather than presenting the works geographically or culturally, the extraordinary breadth and depth of the collection allows Christina E. Burke, Philbrook Curator of Native American and Non-Western art, to attempt a more nuanced and complex installation.
The exhibition highlights the evolution, as well as the reception and intent, of Native American art from 1900 to present, representing one of the finest surveys of 20th century Native American art on the planet. Two smaller spaces on the main level, the William S. Smith Gallery and the adjacent Irene and Sanford Burnstein Gallery, enable Philbrook curators to freshen the presentation with rotating exhibitions.
The second floor of Philbrook Downtown has three distinct spaces, including the 3,500-square-foot Jack and Ann Graves Gallery for the exhibition of the Native American art collection, the Adkins Study Center, as well as collections storage. Skylights introduce natural light into the galleries and wood floors further soften the industrial setting. The Nancy E. and Peter C. Meinig Gallery encompasses approximately 3,800 square feet on the first floor and serves as a permanent home to the Philbrook modern and contemporary collection. Opening Abstraction presents a selection of abstract works made after 1945 by both established and emerging artists. The majority of artworks on view is drawn from the permanent collection and includes recent acquisitions making their debut with this installation.