The Center of Southwest Studies at Fort Lewis College was awarded a special grant in the amount of $25,000 from the Henry Luce Foundation’s American Art Program to support the permanent installation of a significant portion of Southwestern textiles from the Durango Collection® in the new Treasures of the Southwest exhibition, which opened February 15, 2017. The Center of Southwest Studies is unique among its peer institutions in that it is more than a research library and archives that focuses on the arts, archaeology, anthropology, history and natural landscapes of the Southwest. It also includes a public museum space. In addition to featuring the Center’s collections through interpretive exhibitions it also develops and hosts travelling exhibitions. For the first time in its history the Center is dedicating a portion of its museum gallery space to the permanent collections. The Treasures exhibit will focus on annually rotating Southwest textiles from the Durango Collection®, the Bill and Sue Hensler collection of Native American art, postcards and historical materials from the Nina Heald Weber collection, pottery, sculpture and other works from the museum and archives collections.
The rotations will feature different aspects of the Durango Collection®, for example, artistic comparisons focusing on the cross-cultural exchange of design elements among different cultures historically. This first exhibition will feature textiles from the Diné (Navajo), Hispanic and Mexican influences on textile designs in the nineteenth century. Future rotations will focus on interpretive themes featuring particular parts of the collection, for example, one that explores Ancestral Puebloan textile production techniques 1000 years ago that continue to be used by weavers today. While others might focus on textile designs as they relate to cultural knowledge and traditions.
The Durango Collection® is a comprehensive grouping of textiles and related items that represent 1000 years of weaving in the American Southwest. It is a collection known for its high quality historic Southwest weavings. It was originally assembled by Mark Winter, owner of the historic Toadlena Trading Post in New Mexico and the late H. Jackson Clark, founder of Toh-Atin Gallery in Durango. A portion of the collection was later acquired by Richard and Mary Lyn Ballantine of Durango, who in 2000 donated it to the Center of Southwest Studies. Over the years other donors, including Mark Winter and his family, have also added significant textiles to the collection.
In addition to the Treasures exhibit the Center also installed the Ben Nighthorse Campbell: Colorado’s Renaissance Man exhibit that features some of Campbell’s furniture and memorabilia from his U.S. Senate office that he donated to the Center in 2004. This will be an ongoing exhibit with a changing emphasis every year. This year we are highlighting some of his jewelry, with pieces borrowed from Ben and Linda Campbell’s private collection and Shanan Campbell Wells at Sorrel Sky Gallery in Durango.
Both exhibits, Ben Nighthorse Campbell: Colorado’s Renaissance Man and Treasures of the Southwest featuring the Durango Collection® are now currently open from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m., Monday - Friday, in the Center’s Museum.