Turtle Shell Gallery

North Wing (Lower Level)

Featuring cultural materials from the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian Collection


Cultural Continuity
Explore how Native Peoples carry forward beliefs, customs, and traditions. Historic objects, selected by delegates of Oklahoma’s tribal nations, will be on loan from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, (NMAI) in Washington, D.C. The themes of Journey, Community, Perpetuation, and Spirituality are an important part of cultural continuity. Contemporary and historic objects are intentionally juxtaposed to bear witness to the long continuum of native culture.

The gallery design takes its inspiration from the highly revered, and seemingly indestructible, turtle. The turtle has always figured prominently in Indian culture because of its strength, endurance, and longevity. These qualities, along with the turtle’s perceived wisdom, are metaphors for the “cultural continuum,” a long and unbroken chain of knowledge passed down from generation-to-generation to this day. As you look upward you will be mesmerized by the atmospheric and poetic images that help transport you through time.

Note: See related links for NMAI Collection highlights
(Selections for the Turtle Shell Gallery will be made in collaboration with Oklahoma Tribal Nations.)