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'Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America's Past Revealed' at The National Museum of the American Indian, New York

The National Museum of the American Indian's George Gustav Heye Center in New York and the Smithsonian Latino Center present "Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America's Past Revealed," a major bilingual exhibition making its New York debut after a first run in Washington, D.C. The exhibition opens Saturday, April 18, and runs through January 2017 in the museum's West Gallery.

'Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America's Past Revealed' at The National Museum of the American Indian, New York
Greater Nicoya female figure-vessel, AD 800-1200. Linea Vieja area, Costa Rica. Pottery, clay slip, paint [Credit: Ernest Amoroso, NMAI]
"Cerámica de los Ancestros" provides intimate access to select pieces from rarely seen collections of nearly 12,000 ancient ceramic objects from Central America. Over several years of research, 155 pieces were chosen to illuminate the intricacies of ancient Central America's first peoples and the societies they developed.

Dating as far back as 1000 B.C., the ceramics these diverse communities left behind over the millennia, combined with recent archaeological discoveries, help tell the stories of their ancient cultures and innumerable achievements. The exhibition examines seven regions (Ulúa River, Maya, Lempa River, Greater Nicoya, Central Caribbean, Greater Chiriquí and Greater Coclé) representing distinct Central American cultural areas that are today part of Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama.

The exhibition's initial debut was built upon more than two years of research in the museum's Central American ceramics collections sponsored by the Smithsonian Latino Center. Curator Ann McMullen and guest curator Alexander Villa Benitez of George Mason University identified key regional objects from the collection and augmented this selection with significant examples of work in gold, jade, copper, marble, shell and stone.

The exhibition is accompanied by the landmark publication, Revealing Ancestral Central America, edited by Rosemary A. Joyce, available for free digitally. In addition, an interactive website includes 3-D images of select objects, along with a bilingual children's activity book and family guide. A full schedule of educational and public programs will include hands-on demonstrations, films and extended programming throughout the run of the exhibition.

Source: Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian [April 08, 2015]

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