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Art of the Ancient Americas at the Museums FREE MASKS WHILE SUPPLIES LAST

SPRINGFIELD, MA—Masks that cover your nose and mouth are a required “fashion” in many indoor venues, including the Springfield Museums—what better way to promote an exhibit about adornments for your body than branded masks! The Springfield Museums presents The Body Adorned: Artistry and Legacy of the Ancient Americas, December 4, 2021-February 27, 2022 in the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts.

Visitors to the exhibit will receive a free, branded mask while supplies last, thanks to the generous support of the Art Bridges Initiative. (One mask per visitor.)

Never before featured at the Museums, this is a must-see opportunity to view the remarkably crafted accessories of ancient cultures from Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Mexico and understand the ongoing influence of their artistry.

Feather textiles, gold pendants, and greenstone ear rods are among the most exquisite adornments crafted by artists working in the ancient Americas. Designed to be worn both in life and in death, these treasures functioned as status symbols, ritual paraphernalia, and sacred channels to a more sublime realm. Often small in scale and intricately crafted, the adornments featured in this exhibition were created in sophisticated workshops by highly skilled artists. These splendid works of art offer insight into the values, beliefs, and achievements of indigenous peoples.

This exhibition will explore the artistic adornment of the ancient American cultures of Colombia, Costa Rica, Panama, Peru, and Mexico, as well as the influence that metalwork, textiles, and ceramics had on future generations of artists. In addition to including work made between 400 and 1500 AD, the display will include works by 20th century American designer and jewelry maker William Spratling (1900-1967), who spent over three decades in Mexico and was inspired by Mesoamerican art and architecture. The display will explore the enduring power of these brilliant motifs, and bring together different eras in dialogue.

“Art of the ancient Americas is not represented in the collection of the Springfield Art Museums, so the opportunity to share these stunning adornments from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is a very special one,” said Maggie North, Curator of Art for the Springfield Museums. “In addition to looking to the past, the exhibit celebrates the enduring influence of pre-Hispanic artists, and invites visitors to consider their legacy.”

“This exhibition, The Body Adored, is the result of a meaningful partnership between the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Springfield Museums, which is supported by the Art Bridges Initiative. This collaboration allows the MFA Boston to share its collection with a wide audience and to learn from colleagues at other institutions,” said Martina Tanga, Curatorial Research and Interpretation Associate.


Related lectures include:

Lasting Impressions: Tattooing and Body Art in the Ancient Americas

Sunday, December 5, 1 pm

Free with museum admission in the Davis Auditorium, D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts

Not able to join us in person? Watch the lecture on Zoom! Register in advance at Springfield Members free; nonmembers $5.

For thousands of years, ancient American peoples practiced tattooing and other permanent forms of body modification. These cultural expressions signified indigenous identity and status and transformed the human body into a ritual vessel that channeled spiritual power across the planes of the living and the dead. Dr. Lars Krutak explores the enduring legacy of these traditions with special reference to contemporary indigenous peoples of Amazonia who continue to transcend their human, natural, and otherworldly realms of existence through bodily alteration. A panel discussion follows the lecture.

Mastery and Materiality in the Ancient Americas

Thursday, January 27, 2022,  12:15 pm1:30 pm

Cost: $4; Free for Members, in the Davis Auditorium, D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts

Not able to join us in person? Watch the lecture on Zoom! Register in advance at Springfield Members free; nonmembers $5.


Ji Mary Seo of Harvard University explores artistic traditions of the ancient Americas, from highly sophisticated weaving, carving, and metallurgical practices to notions of material preciousness in the pre-Hispanic world. This talk examines artworks from both the Andes and Mesoamerica and considers the pre-Hispanic values these objects make evident through their construction and materiality. Seo is a PhD student in the History of Art and Architecture Department at Harvard University.

The Body Adorned: Artistry and Legacy of the Ancient Americas is one in a series of American art exhibitions created through a multi-year, multi-institutional partnership formed by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, as part of the Art Bridges Initiative.
Art Bridges and Museum of Fine Arts Boston, One Admission/Five Museums,

including the one and only Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum

Parking is always FREE

About The Springfield Museums


THE SPRINGFIELD MUSEUMS are located on the Quadrangle at 21 Edwards Street in the heart of downtown Springfield, Massachusetts. The nationally accredited and Smithsonian-affiliated consortium of museums includes the Springfield Science Museum, the Michele and Donald D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts, the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History, the George Walter Vincent Smith Art Museum, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, and the Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum, the first and only museum dedicated to the beloved children’s book author and Springfield native.