Press release: Textiles exhibition will highlight ancient Peruvian works in SLAM’s collection

By | May 21, 2018

ST. LOUIS, May 21, 2018—The Saint Louis Art Museum will present “Balance and Opposition in Ancient Peruvian Textiles,” a free exhibition that will demonstrate the diversity of ancient Peru, as well as the depth and breadth of the museum’s collection. The exhibition will be on view in Gallery 100 from June 15 through Nov. 25.

(To download web-sized images from the exhibition, right click on the images below.)

With objects produced by a range of cultures spanning more than 2,000 years, “Balance and Opposition” marks the first time the museum’s remarkable holdings of ancient Peruvian textiles will be shown as a group. The exhibition celebrates the aesthetic appeal, technical skill and remarkable antiquity of these works, while being grounded in cultural context.

Because of the labor and artistry involved in their construction, ancient Peruvians valued exceptional textiles more highly than silver and gold. Cloth held the utmost importance in displays of political power, ethnic distinction and religious events. Brightly colored and decorated with meaningful motifs, textiles were used for storage, tools, weapons, wrappings for the dead, and of course, a range of clothing. “Balance and Opposition” presents works that express a variety of cultural values and that were produced with a variety of innovative techniques.

The exhibition’s title refers to the concept of duality that was fundamentally important to ancient Peruvian art and culture. All aspects of life were organized into two opposing parts that operated in the continual pursuit of balance. Textiles embodied this duality, as they only come into existence when the warp is woven with the weft.

“Balance and Opposition” includes works from the museum’s impressive collection of Andean textiles and loaned works from the University of Missouri Museum of Art and Archaeology. The exhibition is curated by Deborah Spivak, Andrew W. Mellon Fellow for Ancient American Art.

CONTACT: Matthew Hathaway, 314.655.5493,