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Permanent Collection

Earth, Fire & Stone: Kenneth E. Stratton Collection of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican Art

September of 1992 marked the opening of the Fresno Art Museum’s Hans Sumpf Gallery of Mexican Art - an opening highlighted by an installation entitled Masterpieces of Mesoamerican Pre-Columbian Ceramics from the Kenneth E. Stratton Collection. The gallery was designed to give the impression of walking into a space similar in feeling to a shaft tomb as most of the ceramic artworks from Kenneth Stratton’s bequest originally came from just such pre-Columbian burial sites. Prompted by Stratton’s gift to the Museum, the Sumpf family contributed the necessary funds to house the collection. Because Hans Sumpf and Kenneth Stratton had been lifelong friends, it is fitting that this gallery honors the life of two remarkable men who cared passionately about their community and the vital culture of our southern neighbors.

The majority of the Stratton collection on display was created before the Europeans entered the New World and represent cultures from the area now known as West Mexico and date from 500 to 2500 years in age. The collection’s strength is evident in the outstanding examples representing Olmec, Tlatilco, Chupícuaro, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Teotihuacan, Veracruz, Oaxaca, and the Lagunillas style. This splendid collection gathered over the years by Kenneth E. Stratton has enabled the Museum to foster a deep appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of the Mexican and Mexican American people.


Andean Pre-Columbian Textiles and Artifacts

In the spring of 1995, the Fresno Art Museum introduced its audience to the pre-Columbian Andean collection assembled by the weaver Janet B. Hughes. Representing regional variations drawn from a number of cultures, the Hughes Collection of Andean Pre-Columbian Art clearly indicates that weaving was one of the earliest forms of artistic expression as well as a means of status identification for the ancient peoples of Peru.

Numbering over 650 artifacts, the Hughes Collection features both textiles and ceramic artifacts from the southern most point of Peru. Carved wooden objects, including ceremonial vessels known as keros, are included in the current exhibition along with a selection of ancient textiles recovered from tombs throughout Peru. A group of ceramic vessels from various cultures once living in this arid region reveal examples of the stylized zoomorphic and anthropomorphic forms that are repeated in some of the vivid colored textiles. Even though the Andean potters employed simple techniques in the production of ceremonial and utilitarian vessels, they crafted vessels with graceful lines and pleasing proportions. The sculpted vessels may take on these same anthropomorphic or zoomorphic shapes and often include painted designs that have been applied to the surface. Nazca, Moche, Lambayeque, Chancay, Chiribaya, and Arica cultures are represented in the ceramic works.

Audio tours on these exhibitions available. Click here for more information.