A pair of red, beaded Converse shoes with a white horse on them and blue shoelaces.

Beadwork &

From garments to accessories and beyond, discover the collection of works in these uniquely American Indian craft arts.

The Beadwork & Quillwork Collection

The Heard Museum collection contains quillwork and beadwork, primarily from the cultures of the Great Plains and the Southwest. American Indian cultures in the eastern United States and the Great Plains used porcupine quills and bird-feather quills to ornament clothing and pouches, as well as other containers, home furnishings and cradleboard covers.

In Arizona, the Western Apache used beads to ornament clothing and to make T-necklaces. The Yuman Tribes of the Lower Colorado River made beaded shawl collars.

When traders and explorers introduced glass beads from Europe, this new material partially supplanted quill decoration. Artists could use colorful glass beads to achieve design effects similar to those of dyed quills. Yet, quills continued to be used as ornament in conjunction with beads, and quillwork remains today a distinctively American Indian craft art.

Beadwork & Quillwork Collection Highlights

  • A blue beaded purse with a wooden handle.
    Artist once known, Sioux, Beaded bag, c. 1900. Heard Museum purchase, NA-PL-So-Q-69
  • A pair of red beaded Converse sneakers with a design of a Native American and a horse and blue shoestrings.
    Terri Greeves, Kiowa/Comanche, b. 1970, We Gave Two Horses in Honor of Our Son, 1999. Heard Museum purchase, 3868-1
  • A colorful pipe bag against a white background.
    Artist once known, Cheyenne, Pipe bag, c. 1890. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection, 107BE
  • A bead designed tricycle with a colorful seat and wheels.
    Paula Rasmus Dede, Aleut, b. 1946, Pedaling My Inner Child, 2008. Gift of the artist and John Q. Dede, 4749-1
  • A beaded bracelet with the Statue of Liberty on it.
    Marcus Amerman, Choctaw, b. 1959, Bracelet, 2002. Heard Museum purchase, 4153-1
  • A wooden lattice cradle with a colorful design on it.
    Artist once known, Kiowa, Lattice cradle, c. 1890. Fred Harvey Fine Arts Collection, 81BE

About the Heard Museum Art Collections

The Heard Museum art collection concentrates on the lives of Native peoples and consists of more than 45,000 objects. The two focal areas of the collection are comprehensive cultural collections from the Greater Southwest and contemporary native fine art from North America. Key collections include Hopi katsina dolls; Navajo and Zuni jewelry, Navajo textiles, Southwestern ceramics from prehistory to the present and baskets from the Southwest, California, the Great Basin and the Northwest. The approximately 4,000 fine art works in the Heard Museum collection document the American Indian Fine Art Movement from the 20th century to the present, and include work by some of the finest historic and contemporary American Indian artists.

A beaded bracelet with the Statue of Liberty on it.

See Beadwork on View at the Heard Museum

Explore 12 galleries of American Indian art and exhibitions and see what’s on view from our collection.