New in 2015: Model Cradle

By | December 27, 2015

For the rest of the year, we’re highlighting amazing works of art that became part of the SLAM collection in 2015. We’ll be posting a new acquisition daily through the end of the year. You can read each installment here


Model Cradle, 20th century; Apsáalooke (Crow); hide, wood, glass beads, and wool; 5 x 6 x 23 inches; Saint Louis Art Museum, The Donald Danforth Jr. Collection, Gift of Mrs. Donald Danforth Jr. 109:2015

This year, the Art Museum accepted 71 promised gifts from the Donald Danforth Jr. Collection–the culmination of a transformational addition to the Native American art collection that started in 2010. In the last five years, the Danforth family generously has given hundreds of works of art made by members of Indian tribes from the Northern and Southern Plains between 1850 and 1890, when Native Americans were adapting their former nomadic lifestyles to the confines of reservations.

We’ll celebrate the gift in 2016 with the publication of Plains Indian Art of the Early Reservation Era: The Donald Danforth Jr. Collection at the Saint Louis Art Museum. Edited by Jill Ahlberg Yohe and Janet Catherine Berlo, the scholarly catalogue will examine the late Mr. Danforth’s role as a collector and situate the artworks historically.

“Personal objects adorned with beadwork and quillwork such as moccasins, pipe bags, pouches, jewelry, and children’s items are hallmarks of the gift,” said Nichole N. Bridges, the Art Museum’s associate curator in charge, Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.

Nichole N. Bridges

Nichole N. Bridges

Bridges is particularly excited about one particular object from Danforth Collection acquired this year–Model Cradle, a 20th century toy made by an unidentified Apsáalooke (Crow) artist.

“The artist Wendy Red Star, one of several authors contributing to the book, writes about the star motifs on a child’s Apsáalooke model cradle from the collection,” Bridges said. “Although symbolism is rare in Apsáalooke art, there are star motifs at the top and base of this cradle. These represent the “Bear Above” constellation in Apsáalooke astronomy, signifying a bear’s strength and bravery and thus protection for a baby cradled inside.