This collection illustrates the movement of settlers into Western regions of the United States and the depiction and interpretation of this movement by visual artists. By 1850, although many U.S. Americans understood the shape of the nation to be fixed, indigenous people continued to contest these claims. At the same time, technological developments made photography widely available to European Americans. This historical conjuncture meant that the settlers and the U.S. government's expropriation of native land was aided by the circulation of the first photographic images of the West.
This collections invites a critical look at the representation and effect of Manifest Destiny, and ideology that explained European American violence and colonialism as the pre-determined unfolding of what was mean to be . This body of work raises important and challenging questions about racial
stereotyping, the seizure of land from native populations, and the preservation and
destruction of natural resources. What this portfolio can also show is the shifting and changing images
of the American West over time, for example: from the focus on “cowboys and
Indians” of Huffman and Kenyon to the sublime natural expanses of Ansel Adams.
This learning collection features selected objects, images, prints, paintings, and photographs from the University of Michigan Museum of Art’s collection designed to support educators in the history and social studies classroom. The “American History Abridged” provides highlighted objects and images from United States history, while the other collections feature specialized objects based on specific historical periods. When possible, the distinct historical learning collections include artwork created only during that era rather than works created later the depict earlier events. Some collections also contain contemporary works of art from artists like Kara Walker or Glenn Ligon that incorporate historical themes, subjects, and methodology in their work.
Pueblo Red Mesa Black-on-White Bird Effigy Vessel mineral paint on earthenware 3 11/16 in x 2 1/2 in x 3 11/16 in (9.37 cm x 6.35 cm x 9.37 cm) Gift of Estelle Titiev, from the collection of Mischa Titiev