Southern Ute Museum unveils new exhibits

Courtesy Southern Ute Museum

Just in time for the tourism season, the Southern Ute Cultural Center and Museum has installed three new exhibits for your viewing pleasure. The creation of new exhibits involves all museum staff with everyone playing a different role such as research, writing, selection of exhibit items, graphic design, production of text panels, installation, development of educational materials, and marketing and promotion. It is a fun and creative hands-on process that serves our visitors and expands the museum’s knowledge about Ute and Native American history and culture. 

Jd Challenger Exhibit: The Temporary Gallery now features 29 works of art by Jd Challenger, a highly regarded painter of Native portraits. This exhibit’s featured piece is an 8’ by 8’ painting called “Hear the Voices of the People” which was recently purchased by private collectors, Bob and Laura Gray. The Grays wanted the piece to go on exhibit for the benefit of Native audiences and they, along with the artist Jd Challenger, are underwriting much of the costs associated with the exhibit. The Museum is fortunate to have been selected as the first stop for the exhibit and owes a debt of gratitude to the Grays and Jd Challenger. Special thanks also go to Arthur Piubeni, president of Essential Magazine, who recommended the museum for this honor and Exposures Gallery owner, Marty Herman, who has provided special support for the project. Run dates: June 1-November 30, 2022. 

Tá waghani (Leader-House): In the Second Floor Gallery an exhibit about Ute leadership introduces visitors to Tribal Chiefs, explains the transition to the Tribal Council in 1936, and honors tribal members who have served as Council Chairmen and Councilors. While doing research for the exhibit, Collections Manager Tallias Cantsee and Education and Outreach Coordinator, Raelynn Torres, retrieved an important original source from the Museum’s archives that revealed new information about the transition into the era of constitutional governance. Their research of the first Tribal Council meeting minutes shows that John Burch became Council Chairman in April 1934. Burch was then re-elected chairman under the new constitution by his fellow councilmen when it was adopted in late 1936. He served until he passed away in spring 1937. Antonio Buck Sr., traditionally viewed as the first chairman, was elected to that position in August 1937. At that time, Council Chairs were elected by other Council members. It wasn’t until the adoption of the 1975 Constitution that tribal members directly elected the Chairman. Run dates: indefinite. 

Ute STEM Exhibit: Located in the Alcove Gallery, this hands-on exhibit highlights the Utes’ use of science, technology, engineering, and math in traditional practices such as tipi raising, basket weaving, beading, and, hunting and gathering. The exhibit was created through a collaboration between the three Ute tribes and the state museum, History Colorado, located in Denver. It was underwritten by the National Science Foundation so that multiple copies of the exhibit could be produced and shared with the partners. The exhibit is designed to be portable so that it can be loaned out to schools and community groups. The Museum will begin loaning the exhibit in 2023. Run dates: May 2022-May 2023. 


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