Greenwich, CT - The Bruce Museum has announced the promised gift of a highly significant collection of Native American baskets, textiles, and ceramics, to be donated to the Museum by Mr. and Mrs. Jay W. Chai of Riverside, CT. The Museum’s Executive Director, Peter C. Sutton, expressed his abiding gratitude. He characterized it as “a truly transformative gift.”
The donation will build on the foundation of ethnographic material given to the Museum in 1967 by Greenwich resident Margaret Cranford and will enhance the Bruce Museum’s standing as a regional resource for scholars and aficionados of Native American material culture.
The Museum's ethnology collection focuses on objects of peoples from the Americas and reflects the sophistication and diversity of the various cultures represented. The Native American collection is particularly strong in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Southwest material, including Navajo textiles and jewelry, Pueblo blackware, and Plains beadwork. Baskets, tools and clothing come from Plains, Southwest and Northwest Coast peoples. Prehistoric material from the Northeast rounds out the collection since the Bruce Museum is the repository for archaeological material excavated in Greenwich.
A selection of 13 Native American baskets from the promised gift is now on view in the Museum’s rotunda, as a timely complement to the exhibition A Continuous Thread: Navajo Weaving Traditions. The exhibition showcases a dozen Navajo textiles from the Museum’s Native American ethnographic collection, as well as biographical material about Miss Margaret Cranford. The exhibition will be on display in the Bantle Lecture Gallery through November 25.
“The documented and verifiable provenance of notable objects in this gift strengthens the Bruce’s existing collection and provides innumerable avenues for interpretation and research,” says Kirsten Reinhardt, Bruce Museum Registrar and Curator of the Navajo Weaving Traditions exhibition.
Looking toward the future, the Bruce Museum plans to offer an exhibition featuring significant pieces in the Chai collection to further its mission to promote the understanding and appreciation of art and science to enrich the lives of all people.
Since the Bruce Museum’s founding more than a century ago, the community, through its generosity, has built the Museum collection to over 15,000 objects. The Museum building and its collections are resources owned by the Town of Greenwich and held in trust for the people of the Town by a separate, privately funded 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, Bruce Museum, Inc.