George Gustav Heye and the National Museum of the American Indian - Collecting the Collector

Andrea Zittlau

Abstract


On September 21, 2004 the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) opened its doors to the public. This essay will look at the institution's history, especially its collector, George Gustav Heye, and his representation inside the museum walls. Oscillating between honored patron and greedy businessman, the labels and objects explore his personality but conceal his relationship to the cultures he collected that remained extraordinarily superficial. The problem will be illustrated by using museum labels to explore their implicit rhetoric.

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