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Dallin Museum opens Indigenous Peoples Gallery

sculptures in new exhibit at Dallin MuseumAfter three months, the new exhibits are ready.

The public is welcome to celebrate the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum’s new features from 1 to 3 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 7. The museum is in the Jefferson Cutter House, 611 Mass. Ave., at Mystic Street in Arlington Center. Metered parking is available in the lot behind the building, off Mystic.

Kicking off the event at 1 p.m. will be opening remarks in Whittemore Park, directly in front of the museum. An “Exemplary Plaque” honoring late Treasurer Paul McGaffigan will be dedicated at that time. Refreshments provided by Arlington’s Food Link will be served after the speeches. In case of rain, the ceremony will take place inside the museum, in the Cutter Gallery, located downstairs.

New features: Indigenous Peoples Gallery, updated entry hall

The museum will be open from noon to 4 p.m. for the public to view the extensive renovations—a new Indigenous Peoples Gallery exhibit and a redesigned entry hall.

In these spaces, visitors can learn, through multiple vantage points and perspectives, about the depth and nuance of Cyrus Dallin’s art and legacy.

The new gallery explores 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 viewers can learn from his example.

Dallin Museum representatives are grateful to collaborators Elizabeth Solomon (Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag), Forrest Cuch (Ute Tribe), Claudia Tekina-ru Fox Tree (Arawak/Yurumein) and Faries Gray (Massachusett Tribe at Ponkapoag) for sharing their knowledge and insights.

“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 us all,” wrote Museum Director/Curator Heather Leavell.

The Indigenous Peoples Gallery project is supported by funds from the Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism and the Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area Partnership Grant Program. Read more about the new gallery here.

The funds were facilitated by state Rep. Sean Garballey, who worked with the museum. “The Dallin Museum sincerely thanks Rep. Garballey for his leadership in securing this important grant,” said Board of Directors President Geri Tremblay. 

Museum boasts new sights, new sounds:
  • A new, wall-length panel in the museum’s entry illuminates 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 share the stories of influential indigenous figures in Dallin’s life and art, including Chief Washakie, Francis LaFlesche, Zitkála-Šá and Sacajawea.
  • Contemporary indigenous perspectives reflect on on Dallin’s art, the role of allies and the proliferation of native stereotypes in popular culture.
  • An audio program features 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 explores what it means to be in native space, written by 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 to build an online database accessible to the public via the museum’s website. The museum's leadership team is grateful to Freedom’s Way National Heritage Area, the Town of Arlington and the Municipal Board of Trustees for their ongoing support.

Background on the museum

Founded in 1998, the Cyrus Dallin Art Museum is the only museum in the United States solely dedicated to preserving the legacy of this internationally recognized artist, educator and indigenous rights advocate. The museum has exhibits that contain more than 100 works of Dallin’s art, including approximately 50 sculptures, 10 paintings, and several coins and medals.

The museum had closed temporarily in mid-May 2022 to allow sufficient time to completely install the new features.

The museum’s mission is to promote new insights into America’s shared history by exploring the life, work and values of this celebrated sculptor. Learn more at www.dallin.org.

The museum is now open Saturdays and Sundays, noon to 4 p.m. To book a group tour, email Nancy Blanton: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..  


This news summary was published Aug. 1, 2022. YourArlington freelance writer Susan Gilbert submitted it to YA in her capacity as the museum's public relations representative.

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