The artwork, perspectives, and histories of Native artists, scholars, and community members are at the center of Preoccupied: Indigenizing the Museum, a major BMA initiative. The wide-reaching project seeks to begin addressing the historical erasure of Indigenous culture by arts institutions while creating new practices for museums.

The expansive Preoccupied project extends into the galleries and beyond with public programs, nine exhibitions, staff training, and new interpretive texts for artworks throughout the Museum. The curatorial team worked closely with Native artists, curators, and Baltimore-region residents on a community advisory panel to frame the questions this project would ask. In the earliest stages of the initiative, all Preoccupied project participants were invited to an “unconference,” a weekend-long retreat with the exhibitions’ curators, where they discussed Native visibility in the face of colonial oppression.

Preoccupied radically centers Native perspectives in a space that has often overlooked or erased that community: encyclopedic museums,” shares the project’s co-curator Dare Turner (Yurok Tribe), Curator of Indigenous Art at the Brooklyn Museum. “It challenges all museums to interrogate their colonial roots and make space for new ways of thinking, learning, and being.”

Preoccupied emphasizes that Native people have created meaningful art since time immemorial and that Native communities thrive to this day. Beyond its large-scale exhibition program, the BMA’s celebration of Native art and artists offers a framework that the Museum can carry forward for future exhibitions and community engagement.

A catalog published by the BMA and distributed by the University of Washington Press will be available in May 2024. Fifty vivid, detailed images of works from the exhibitions share pages with personal reflections, a comic featuring fictional Indigenous hero Pueblo Jones, insights from Native artists whose works are featured in the book, newly commissioned poetry, and scholarly and curatorial considerations.

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Add to Calendar 20240421 America/New_York 10 Art Museum Drive Baltimore MD 21218 Preoccupied: Indigenizing the Museum