Catlin and his North American Indian Gallery and Museum


FEBRUARY 1 is the centenary of the opening of "Catlin's North American Indian Gallery and Museum" in the Egyptian Hall, London. George Catlin, American artist, traveller, and ethnographer, spent eight years, 1830–38, among the Plains Indians of North America, and was familiar with their life and customs at a time when the Indians were still living far from that civilization which was to overtake and destroy them so rapidly. His declared purpose from the outset was to preserve for posterity the likeness of aboriginal man in America, and his artistic ability and industry in this direction was shown to great advantage by more than six hundred portraits and sketches of the Indians, and of Indian life, hung round the walls of the Egyptian Hall. The Museum contained thousands of objects of Indian manufacture such as weapons, costumes, musical instruments, and domestic utensils so arranged as to form a pictorial history of those tribes thought particularly worthy of notice. In the centre of the room was erected a large wigwam from the country of the Crow Indians, made of buffalo skins, curiously ornamented with porcupine quills, and capable of housing eighty persons.


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GASKIN, L. Catlin and his North American Indian Gallery and Museum. Nature 145, 158 (1940).

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