NORMAN — A collection of more than 4,000 pieces of art opening at the University of Oklahoma Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art this weekend offers insight into Native American history, culture and a growing art genre.
The James T. Bialac Native American Art Collection, gifted in 2010 by James T. Bialac of Arizona, gives the public access to 2,600 paintings and works on paper, 1,000 kachina dolls and 100 pieces of jewelry representing indigenous cultures across North America.
“You’ve got to see it to understand it, or not necessarily understand it, but to appreciate it. It is an educational tool,” Bialac said of his collection. “I’m just thrilled that the University of Oklahoma would like the collection and to take care of it. And thanks to President David Boren and the staff at the museum, they’re doing a fantastic job making sure Native American art is appreciated.”
To celebrate the collection’s opening, the museum, at 555 Elm Ave., is offering free admission Saturday. A community celebration is scheduled from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday, featuring artist demonstrations by Tony Abeyta, Anita Fields, Benjamin Harjo Jr., Linda Lomahaftewa and America Meredith. The OU School of Dance also is performing a specially choreographed number.
For more information on museum hours and admission prices, visit www.ou.edu/fjjma or call 325-4938.
The collection also will be on display at the Sam Noble Museum of Natural History, the Donald E. Pray Law Library at the College of Law and the Charles M. Russell Center for the Study of Art of the American West, for a total exhibition space of more than 40,000 square feet at OU.
Free docent-led tours of the exhibits at the Law Library, 300 W. Timberdell Road, will be offered 3:30 p.m. today and 3:30 p.m. Sunday. The Russell Center, located across the street from the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, will be open with free admission from 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday.