Osage Nation Museum Holds Opening Reception for New Exhibit “Enduring Images: Osage Photographic Portraiture”

Published February 20, 2017

PAWHUSKA, OKLAHOMA – The Osage Nation Museum (ONM) will host an Opening Reception on Thursday, February 23rd for a new exhibit.

Since its inception, photography was used to capture a moment in time.  A place, gesture, facial expression, or time period is frozen for future generations to look upon.  During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Native Americans were considered a “vanishing race.”   Photographic images show an important and sometimes romanticized version of Native American life.  During this time, the Osage people were also photographed prolifically.  Photographers such as G.W. Parsons, O. Drum, W.J. Boag, and Vince Dillon set up their studios in Pawhuska and Fairfax to document and photograph the Osage Indians.  Publishers including W. A. Bradley and Williamson Halfner distributed real photo post cards of Osage Indian culture and people, making these images available for worldwide consumption.

The ONM has chosen to display these century old photographs from the permanent collection in the hopes that viewers may glimpse what life was like for the Osage during this time period and draw their own contemporary reactions to these images.  In the age of the “selfie”, where a camera is never far away, and our lives are well documented, we thought it was important to showcase early photography of the Osage and how our people were depicted.  We want to ask the viewer to think about the reactions they might have from seeing these images and if this is how they would like to be portrayed today.

Coincidentally, the ONM’s recent donation from Assistant Chief Raymond W. Red Corn arrived during the planning phase of this exhibition and will be on view digitally courtesy of Ryan Red Corn.  The donation of photographic images fits perfectly within the scope of this exhibition and has allowed ONM staff to enhance the work shown in the exhibit.  This provides an opportunity for the community to view this amazing recent acquisition to the permanent collection.

Visitors will engage with the exhibit through the use of ‘Artist Benches’ that are set up throughout the gallery.  These benches are available to allow visitors to sketch and be creative while being surrounded by these photographic images.  ‘Art Cards’ provide visitors the opportunity for self-reflection.  These self-guided question and answer cards facilitate thoughtful interaction with the objects and images on display.  The ‘Imagination Station’ will be set up with a mock studio where visitors may take modern-day portraits of themselves reminiscent of the historical photographs in the gallery.

Additionally, the ONM will have photo binders available for patrons to look at and add any additional information they may know about the individuals in the photographs from our permanent collection.  In doing so, the ONM hopes to capture important information that will enhance the photographic collection housed here.

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