Indigenous Art of the Americas
April 18, 1947 through July 1962
The Robert Woods Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art was first exhibited at the National Gallery of Art. The initial 1947 exhibition was so popular with the public that it was extended in 1948 and 1950, and remained on view for 15 years. Wall-mounted cases juxtaposed objects from a variety of cultures into elegant displays. The objects were labeled with essential cultural information and presented as objets d'art, admired for their beauty, creative conception and exquisite workmanship. This was the first semi-permanent exhibition of Pre-Columbian objects at an art museum in the United States.
The exhibit changed over time, as Mr. Bliss added pieces to his collection. He often visited the National Gallery to evaluate potential new acquisitions, relying on a well developed personal aesthetic and the professional advice of scholars in the relatively young field of Pre-Columbian studies. Aware of the great interest generated by his collection, he began planning for its permanent exhibition at Dumbarton Oaks. The National Gallery exhibition closed in June 1962.