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“The Stories We Carry”: The New Installation of the American Art Galleries at the Seattle Art Museum

Community and Conversation highlight Capitalism and Colonialism in the American West in the newly created American Art installation at the Seattle Art Museum.

Theresa Papanikolas, Curator of American Art, and Barbara Brotherton, Curator of Native American Art began to “interrogate and re-contextualize the collection” with the help of 11 community advisors and three artists in the summer of 2021. Certainly, the death of George Floyd, and the protests that followed sparked elite predominantly white institutions across the country to rethink their own unacknowledged racism.

Consequently, the American art galleries formerly filled with art by predominantly white artists, have been entirely transformed.

Barbara Brotherton, retiring curator of Native American Art declared that the museum is following a “dramatically different approach, bringing the historical American art collection into conversation with Native, Asian American, African American, Latinx, and contemporary art. This new interpretive framework brings forward historically excluded narratives and artistic forms. Instead of seeing these communities as parallel to the so-called mainstream history, the museum now is looking at intersections. “