Alaska Native Dolls exhibit showcases cultural gems
April 14, 2003
Among the most prized pieces in the Museum’s collection is an extensive and much-treasured collection of Alaska Native dolls made by past and present trendsetters and tradition-makers in the doll-making field. Alaska Natives have practiced the art of making dolls for at least 2,000 years. Highly stylized and artistic, the earliest dolls were carved wood and ivory human figurines made as ceremonial objects, amulets or children’s toys. Dolls made by contemporary doll-makers faithfully illustrate traditional materials. Amazingly life-like expressions ranging from whimsical to macabre enliven faces made of skin, wood or ivory. Authentic clothing, painstakingly sewn from skin, fur or gut, animate poses illustrating traditional activities—hunting, fishing, dancing. Reflecting distinctive regional styles and highlighting an unwavering attention to craftsmanship and minute detail, this exhibition features some of the finest work by Native doll makers and is on view through Sept. 21.