Frequently Asked Questions
General Questions about the Heard Museum
Q: How many pieces are in the Heard Museum collection, and where does the artwork go when it’s not on display?
A: The Heard Museum collection is comprised of approximately 44,000 objects. While many of the objects are on display in the museum’s 12 exhibit galleries, far more pieces are in storage. Over time, many of the museum’s finest pieces are displayed in exhibitions as they change from season to season.
Q: Did the Heard Museum start out as a house, or has it always been a museum?
A: While the Heard Museum has a warm and homey feel, it was originally built as a museum to house the Heard family’s private collection of American Indian artwork as well as pieces they collected on travels throughout the world. To learn more about the history of the Heard, click here
Q: When did the Heard Museum open?
A: The Heard Museum officially opened on December 26, 1929. It presented the collection of its founders, Dwight Bancroft Heard and Maie Bartlett Heard. The collection included indigenous art from around the world, with an emphasis on the western United States. Collecting art and artifacts and planning for the museum was very much a shared activity of the Heards until Dwight Heard died suddenly in March 1929. Then Maie Heard carried on, leading the museum through its early years until her death in 1951. The museum was built on the grounds of the central Phoenix estate and was connected to their home by a covered crosswalk. To learn more about the history of the Heard, click here
Q: For what is the Heard Museum Collection most well known?
A: The Heard Museum has one of the most outstanding collections of American Indian artwork in the country. The collections range from historic cultural items to contemporary fine art. Several collections are especially noted, chiefly the museum’s broad collection of about 1,200 katsina dolls donated by the late Senator Barry M. Goldwater and the Fred Harvey Company. The Heard Museum’s collection of fine art includes more than 3,600 pieces and documents the 20th century development of the American Indian Fine Art Movement, including work by some of the finest historic and contemporary Native American artists.
Q: What kinds of opportunities does the Heard Museum have to meet American Indian artists?
A: There are many opportunities throughout the year to visit with American Indian artists at the Heard Museum. Artists demonstrations, First Fridays and major festivals offer visitors a chance to learn more about Native art directly from the artists. The best way to make sure you don’t miss any of the Heard’s offerings is to become a member
. Also, visit our calendar of events
for upcoming programs.
Questions About Artists and Artwork
Q: Do you have information about a certain artist?
A: The Heard Museum Billie Jane Baguley Library and Archives
has an American Indian Artist Resource File
containing 25,000 records about artists. While the library is non-circulating, visitors are invited to make an appointment to come in and peruse the many files, books and magazines in the collection. Both the Heard Museum Shop
and Books & More
feature a variety of books on American Indian artists. In addition, the Shop maintains a file of biographical information on numerous Native artists.
Q: How can I find out what my piece of American Indian art is, and what it’s worth?
A: The Heard Museum curators and staff members do not do appraisals. Twice each year, the Heard Museum Council
hosts an American Indian Art & Artifacts Appraisal Day, where the public, for a fee, can have their artwork appraised by noted art dealers and appraisers. See the event calendar
for more information about upcoming events.
There are many organizations that can recommend appraisers in your area. Visit the following Web sites for more information:
Q: Why is kachina doll spelled like 'katsina' in some places?
A: The spelling katsina is more similar to the way that Hopi people pronounce the word in the Hopi language.
Q: Does the Heard Museum show headdresses and teepees?
A: The Heard Museum has collections from Indigenous cultures throughout the world, but its focus is on Native people of the Southwest. This includes the diverse cultures that live in Arizona and New Mexico. The unique landscapes and environments of this region differ vastly from place to place, and the Native people who live in these regions also greatly differ one from the other. While many people think of all Indians living in teepees and wearing headdresses, these are part of Plains culture and are not something that is part of Southwestern Native people’s lives.
Q: Were the tiny beads on many outfits made by the Indians or were they traded? If so, where did they come from?
A: Glass beads were traded to American Indians by all Europeans, who had first contact with Native people. The early beads were made in Venice; later, beads were made in Czechoslovakia – and they are still thought to be the best beads. Today, some beads also come from Japan. The small beads are known as “seed” beads, larger ones are called “Crow” or “Pony” beads. Before European contact, American Indians used a variety of materials for decoration, depending on the area they lived in, trade networks and technology available to them. Materials such as seeds, nuts, paint, bird and porcupine quills, stone, shell, gold, silver and moose hair are some that were most common.
Q: How can you tell if a piece of Indian art is of good quality and will be valuable?
A: There are many ways to determine the value and quality of your artwork. Top tips: Research by reading books and visiting museums; do everything you can to ensure authenticity – buy from a reputable source who is knowledgeable about American Indian art; look for things that fit your lifestyle and personality, not to mention your budget; and don’t buy it if you don’t love it – collecting as an investment is fine, as long as what you’re collecting is something you can live with. You can find out more about how to be a wise buyer and how to care for your artwork once you purchase it at the Heard Museum Shops.
Q: I would like to take photos inside the museum. What are the Heard's policies regarding photography?
A: Here are the museum’s photography policies:
- Photography for personal use only is permitted unless otherwise noted.
- No flash, video light or tripods are allowed in the galleries.
- Copyright for many works of art in the museum rests with the artists. The Heard Museum does not assume liability for violation of copyright law by a photographer (Title 17, United States Code).
- During the Hoop Dance Contest, Indian Fair or other performance venues, photography for personal use only is permitted during the performances unless announced otherwise. Please ask competitors or their families for permission to take photos outside the arena.
- Photography of any kind may not be used for publication without written permission from the museum and/or artists.
- Credentialed members of the media may contact a member of the marketing and public relations staff for more information concerning photography of public events or museum galleries.
American Indian Cultures and Tribes
Q: What opportunities are there to go on the reservations?
A: As a tourist, you are welcome to go on most Indian reservations, unless they are closed for a particular ceremony. This information will be obvious and posted if the area is closed for a ceremony. You must remember that these areas are not “living history museums” but are people’s homes, so courtesy is required. Many reservations have cultural centers
that will orient you. And always remember that you must ask permission before you photograph anyone or anything on the reservation. More Information
Q: What is a Navajo hogan?
A: The traditional Navajo home, called a hogan, is generally constructed from cedar or pine. Mud is packed between the beams, making the home cool in summer and warm in winter. Traditionally, a nuclear family resides in a hogan. Today, hogans are used for ceremonial purposes or as a second home. The door always faces the East to the rising sun. Hogans are built to be round. In the past, a conical shape was popular.
Q: Were sheep brought to the Navajo by the Spanish?
A: Yes. Sheep were brought to this area by the Spanish. The breed that was introduced, the Churro, is currently being restored to the reservation. Churro wool is preferred because of its length and texture. The Merino sheep were introduced by the U.S. government because of the meat they produced, but the wool is shorter, curlier and greasier, and thus not as good for the weavers.
Q: Since many Indian tribes trace their families through the mother's line, do Indian men take their wives' last names or do they have hyphenated last names?
A: The concept of a “last name” or surname is a European one. American Indians were forced to accept the European system of naming, and so follow the custom of taking the husband’s name. In traditional societies, people are given names at different stages of their lives. But the idea of taking a name to show possession of a person is not a custom for Native people.
Q: Which Indians are the descendants of the ancient Pueblo people?
A: The present-day descendants of the ancient Pueblo (formerly, Anasazi) people are the Hopi, Zuni and other Pueblo people of New Mexico. The Navajo and Apache are not a Pueblo group, but are related to each other. The Colorado River peoples are believed to be the descendents of the Patayan and the O’odham are probably the descendants of the Hohokam.
Q: Are Inuit Indians related to the Hopi, Navajo, Iroquois or Mohawk?
A: Inuit is the preferred name for those people often called “Eskimo.” Inuit means “people.” The Inuit are located in Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland and Siberia. They are thus closely related to each other both culturally and often linguistically. Books sometimes discuss the people as participating in a “circum-polar” tradition, because they traditionally live along the Arctic Circle. The relationships (genetic and linguistic) among American Indian people is greatly debated. “Iroquois,” by the way, encompasses the people who formed the great Confederacy of the East and includes the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, Seneca and Tuscarora.
Q: Are the Paiute people related to any of the Arizona Tribes?
A: The Paiute language is a part of the Uto-Aztecan language family, so scholars think that there is a relationship between the Paiute and many other southwestern American Indian peoples. The Paiute were and are important trade partners with the people of the Southwest, and Paiute basket makers weave Navajo ceremonial baskets today. The Paiute are culturally related to the Shoshone, since both people live in the Great Basin and utilize the same resources. The Kaibab Paiute, one group of Paiute, are now located in northern Arizona. In the past, they were hunters and gatherers and moved over a very large area. Forced onto reservations, their traditional way of life has been threatened. This area was also attractive to Mormon settlers who moved in and forced the Paiute to leave some of their lands.