Past Gallery Exhibit – Pottery of the Americas

An Exhibit of Pre-Columbian, Mexican, and Native American Pottery

This exhibition explored the various processes and techniques used to manufacture pottery, the common materials used, and the historic cultures from South America, Mexico, and the American Southwest. The featured artifacts included a stunning assemblage of pottery wares dating from 300 AD through the 20th century, and a rare opportunity to see part of the museum’s permanent collection that are not closely connected to the Galveston area.

The Museum would like to express its deepest appreciation to the following donors and families for the artifacts included in this exhibit: L. A. Cabral; Mr. J. O. Dyer; Dr. E. Burk Evans; Mrs. A. P. Hall; Mr. Percy Holt; Mrs. Henry J. Jumonville; Mrs. Charles E. Meador; Mrs. A. G. Mills; Mr. and Mrs. William Pabst; Mr. Walter Pratt; Ms. Bereneice Raphael; and Mr. Richard L. Stavrakis.

Mexican pitcher

The production of pottery is one of the oldest forms of ancient art as civilizations have used durable, waterproof containers for centuries. Fragments of pottery, called potsherds, are one of the most common finds discovered on archaeological sites. These remnants offer historians insight about the organization, economic condition, and cultural development of the societies that produced or acquired pottery.

One of the most unusual pre-Columbian items on display was a tripod bowl from the Chiriqui Province in the Republic of Panama. It was collected by Richard Stavrakis, and dates to 1200 AD. Patrons can view the bird designs featured on the rim of the bowl as well as the upper portion of the three legs. Another exquisite example of pre-Columbian ceramic ware was a Guangalan whistle from coastal Ecuador. The whistle is in the form of a man wearing an elaborate necklace, loin cloth, and earrings, and displays the cultural art of cranial deformation.

Two beautiful water pitchers of Mexican origin were featured in the exhibit among other ceramic dishes of the Mesoamerican region. Both water pitchers have intricate floral designs and are finished in a clear glaze. A variety of Native American pottery from the Hopi, Zuni, and Acoma Nations were also on display. Pottery enthusiasts will see polychrome vases by well-known artist Fannie Nampeyo as well as striking pieces of San Ildefonso black ware pottery by Maria and Julian Martinez.

Native American Bowl

An assortment of potsherds, stone ware, and other ceramic decorations were featured in the gallery’s flat cases. Especially notable items include Mexican clay figurines and grinding stone that were carved from ancient volcanic rock.