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Exhibit of Photographs by Edward S. Curtis, Renowned Authority on Native Americans, Opens Nov. 1* at Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central
“Beauty, Heart and Spirit: The Sacred Legacy® of Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian,” an exhibit of acclaimed and stunning portraits of Native Americans by Curtis, renowned early-20th century authority on Indians in North America, will open on Thursday, Nov. 1* in the Cargill Hall Gallery at Hennepin County Library – Minneapolis Central, 300 Nicollet Ave., Minneapolis. Admission is free.
The exhibit is open library hours (10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday; 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday; noon-5 p.m. Sunday) through Jan. 6 and was organized by  the Foundation for the Exhibition of Photography, in collaboration with Christopher Cardozo Fine Art, the Minnesota Council of Regional Public Library Administrators and the Friends of the Minneapolis Central Library.
On Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. in Pohlad Hall at Minneapolis Central Library, Christopher Cardozo, the world’s leading authority on Curtis and author of “Sacred Legacy: Edward S. Curtis and the North American Indian,” will introduce the “Beauty, Heart and Spirit” exhibit, show 60 slides of Curtis images, some of which are not in the exhibit, and answer questions.
On Thursday, Nov. 15 at 6 p.m., also in Pohlad Hall, master printers Peter Bernardy and Brad Miller will explain the ahead-of-their-time techniques and processes used by Curtis more than 100 years ago.
Curtis was born in 1868 in Whitewater, Wis., and was an apprentice photographer in St. Paul before moving to the state of Washington in 1887. After meeting and photographing Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest, he was determined to document their traditional way of life before it disappeared. Curtis revered and respected Native Americans for their integrity, independence and connection to the earth, and because of his lifelong sensitivity to and respect for the indigenous way of life, he was trusted by and granted unparalleled access to more than 80 Native American tribes.
Beginning in 1900 and over the next 30 years, and partially funded by American financier and philanthropist J. Pierpont Morgan, Curtis photographed the tribes and published a 20-volume, 20-portfolio set of rare books that today sells for about $2.9 million. Each set of rare books contains more than 2,200 original photographs of North American Indians.
Even then, Curtis knew the tribal way of life was threatened and believed it was near extinction.
“The information that is to be gathered,” he wrote in the introduction to his first volume in 1907, “respects the mode of life of one of the greatest races of mankind. (This) must be collected at once — or the opportunity will be lost.” President Theodore Roosevelt wrote the foreword to this book, deeming Curtis an extraordinary artist who made an unprecedented contribution to the world of scholarship.
Ultimately, Curtis took more than 40,000 haunting, resonating images of Native Americans, which depict the honor and humanity of a culture that had nearly vanished.
There will be more than 40 vintage and contemporary Curtis photographs on display at the exhibit, plus vintage Curtis ephemera such as at least two original volumes and one original portfolio, a vintage gold tone print, and some of Curtis’ correspondence, business documents, postcards and promotional materials. Additionally, historic and contemporary books on Curtis will be displayed.
The exhibit is funded by Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund. For more information:  www.hclib.org.

*10/26/12 update: The exhibit will open prior to Christopher Cardozo's 7 p.m. lecture on Nov. 1.


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