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Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art

In 1995, the New York State Historical Association embarked upon a new era with the opening of the Fenimore Art Museum after a year and a half of renovations and the addition of a spectacular new American Indian Wing. Designed and constructed to house the extraordinary gift from Eugene and Clare Thaw of their collection of American Indian Art, the wing showcased more than 700 objects spanning 20 centuries from throughout North America. Since then, the museum has reached new audiences by touring exhibitions, hosting symposiums, publishing new research, and involving American Indians in Museum programs.

Each new piece reaffirms the Thaws' commitment to the beauty and artistry of American Indian art, and thus strengthens the philosophical foundation of the collection: that the aesthetic power of American Indian art is equivalent to that from any culture. The Thaws have been instrumental in advancing this approach and their dedication and appreciation reflects the vitality and richness of this art. The human aspiration to create beautiful objects, which express a unique world view, is what drew the Thaws to collect this body of work. Ultimately, it is the fundamental humanity of these extraordinary artworks that continues to draw diverse audiences today.