Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest

This landmark exhibition of the American Museum of Natural History’s collection of Navajo textiles will be displayed alongside works by contemporary Diné/Navajo artists and cultural practitioners.

Available Four venues for up to six months

Exhibition Images

  • Eye-dazzler Blanket

    “Eye-dazzler” Blanket
    Unidentified Diné/Navajo Artist (AMNH Collection)
    Wool, cotton; tapestry weave
    Late 19th century
    56 3/4" x 39 3/4"

    This will be among the historic textiles from the American Museum of Natural History-North American Ethnographic Collection, purchased by U.S. Hollister and donated to the Museum in 1911, that will be shown in the exhibition.

  • Rapheal Begay Diné Window Rock

    Rapheal Begay (Diné), Window Rock (Window Rock, AZ), from "A Vernacular Response" series, 2018. Digital photograph. Courtesy of the artist.

  • Darby Raymond-Overstreet Diné Woven Landscape

    Darby Raymond-Overstreet (Diné), Woven Landscape, Window Rock, February 2022. Scanned Navajo textiles, archival print on paper. One in a series of four digital prints, commissioned for Shaped by the Loom exhibition. Courtesy of the artist.

About the Exhibition

Shaped by the Loom: Weaving Worlds in the American Southwest, opening at Bard Graduate Center (BGC) Gallery, will be the first exhibition to showcase the American Museum of Natural History’s collection of Indigenous textiles from the American Southwest. Approximately 20 items from this historic collection, acquired more than a century ago, will be shown alongside contemporary works by master weavers and visual artists. Shaped by the Loom, curated by Dr. Hadley Jensen (BGC PhD ’18) and advised by Diné cultural consultants and fifth-generation weavers Lynda Teller Pete and Barbara Teller Ornelas, will be on view at BGC from February 17 – July 9, 2023. Throughout the run of the exhibition, Navajo weavers, loom and toolmakers, natural dye experts, and multimedia artists will travel from the Southwest to lead workshops, artist demonstrations, and hands-on activities that provide cultural context and lived experience for the items on view.

Shaped by the Loom places Indigenous aesthetics at the center of Navajo textile production, highlighting six themes central to the weaver’s perspective: homeland and cosmology; ecology; dyeing and coloring; techniques and technologies; design elements; and finally, value and exchange. In addition to textiles, the exhibition will display dye charts, looms, tools, and raw materials essential to the weaving process, as well as photographs, audio interviews, digital prints, and other immersive media. Our digital publication will be the first online catalogue of the AMNH’s collection, providing free and accessible research content to the broadest possible audience of artists, educators, and scholars. Visitors will also encounter stunning panoramic views of the Navajo Nation, presented for the first time with 360-degree imaging.

A robust program series on Indigenous weaving practices will accompany the exhibition, promoting deeper understanding of weaving as a cultural practice, and allowing us to document the art form for future generations.

An open-access digital publication, online catalogue, and educator’s guide accompany this exhibition.


  • Organizer

    Bard Graduate Center

  • Loan Duration

    Four venues for up to six months

  • Space Requirements

    1,700 square feet (approximate)

  • Special Requirements:

    Environmental requirements for Shaped by the Loom are 68-72F temperature and 40-55% RH with no more than 10% fluctuation in a 24 hrs period. Light levels are 5 fc.

  • American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) approval of the facility is needed.

  • AMNH couriers will travel with the exhibitions installation and de-installation - these associated costs will be included in shared costs.

  • Some Plexi bonnets and slant boards will travel with the exhibition. These will be included in the shared costs.

  • However, depending on the facility and layout, additional Plexi bonnets and slant boards may be required.

Availability & Touring