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Dallin Museum temporarily closed for installation of new Indigenous Peoples Gallery

Panels for Dallin Museum indiginous exhibit.Preview of panels featured in the Dallin Museum’s new Indigenous Peoples gallery.

The Cyrus Dallin Art Museum is closed through mid-July for the installation of a new Indigenous Peoples Gallery exhibit and a redesign of the entry hall. This exciting project is supported by funds from the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area Partnership Grant Program.

The state funds were facilitated by state Rep. Sean Garballey, who worked with a team from the museum that included the chair of the Friends of the Dallin Museum Stephen Gilligan and Board of Directors President Geri Tremblay, as well as board members Nancy Blanton, Andrew Jay and Dan Johnson, Director/Curator Heather Leavell and Treasurer James Charnley.

“The Dallin Museum sincerely thanks Representative Garballey for his leadership in securing this important grant,” Tremblay said in a May 13 news release.

In the museum’s redesigned spaces, visitors will experience the fascinating and nuanced history of Cyrus Dallin’s art and legacy through multiple vantage points and perspectives.

The new gallery will explore Dallin’s representations of indigenous peoples within the context of his own time, intentions and personal values, while also centering the experiences, histories and cultures of indigenous people of the past and present. Interpretive themes encourage visitors to explore how Dallin’s legacy resonates today and what we can learn from his example.

“This project represents the culmination of years of research on Cyrus Dallin’s legacy as an ally and indigenous-rights advocate, and reflects the museum’s ongoing commitment to fostering dialogue on issues that remain important to indigenous peoples and impact all of us,” says Leavell.

New gallery, redesigned entry highlights

Museum visitors will soon enjoy:

  • A new, wall-length panel in the museum’s entry illuminating Dallin’s art and legacy through quotes by the sculptor’s students at the Mass. Normal Art School, his friend Chief LeRoy Perry (Aquinnah Wampanoag), and Jonathan Fairbanks, curator emeritus and founder of the American Decorative Arts and Sculpture Department at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
  • Graphic panels that share the stories of important and influential indigenous figures in Dallin’s life and art, including Chief Washakie, Francis LaFlesche, Zitkála-Šá and Sacajawea.
  • Contemporary indigenous perspectives on Dallin’s art, the role of allies, and the proliferation of native stereotypes in popular culture. Contributors include Faries Gray, Sagamore of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag; Claudia Tekina-ru Fox Tree, Arawak (Yurumein) educator and social-justice activist; and Forrest Cuch, Ute tribe elder and former director of Indian Affairs for the State of Utah.
  • An audio program featuring a conversation between Dallin and Cuch, who responds to Dallin’s written observations (voiced by an actor) about the Ute people, systemic violence against indigenous peoples and the need for the truthful telling of history.
  • A “Whose Land Are You On?” panel exploring what it means to be in Native space written by Elizabeth Solomon, elder of the Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag.

Part of the $50,000 state grant is also being used to digitize the museum’s archives and build an online database accessible to the public via the museum’s website. The museum is grateful to Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area, the Town of Arlington and the Municipal Board of Trustees for their ongoing collaboration and support.

The Dallin Museum is planning a public reopening celebration, which will likely be held in mid-July. Updates will be posted at and the museum’s Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

Cyrus Dallin Art Museum 

Founded in 1998, the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum is the only museum in the U.S. solely dedicated to preserving the legacy of this internationally recognized artist, educator and Indigenous rights advocate. With exhibits of more than 100 works, including about 50 sculptures, 10 paintings and several coins and medals, the museum promotes new insights into our shared history by exploring the life, work and values of this celebrated sculptor. 

For the latest news, to take a virtual tour of the museum, or watch our past program videos, visit Stay connected with us by following the museum’s YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.

 April 14, 2022: Before riders arrive, head to Dallin Museum

This news summary, by YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert, was published Monday, May 16, 2022.

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