If you go
What: Fort Walla Walla Museum, 755 Myra Road.
Information: 509-525-7703, www.fortwallawall... or info@fortwallawal...
Spring and summer season: April-December. Hours of operation are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.
Admission: free to members and children under 6, $3 for children ages 6-12, $6 for seniors 62 and older and students, and $7 general admission.
WALLA WALLA — A new installation of more than 71 items from the collection of Fred L. Mitchell is the largest survey exhibition locally of his vast collection to date, recently opened at Fort Walla Walla Museum, 755 Myra Road. “Pictures from the Plateau as Seen through Indian Beadwork” will run until Sept. 8.
In addition, the museum will host an an admission-free open house from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. The site offers a journey into the region’s history and heritage of Indian culture, early military presence, horse-era agriculture and pioneer life.
Visitors can tour the entrance hall and galleries, Pioneer Village and four other exhibit halls. Ice cream from Deeney’s Ice Cream and West of the Blues Barbecue will be available for purchase.
Pieces in the new installation cover a range of beadwork designs dating primarily from the late 1800s through the 1920s.
Inspired both by nature and common culture, artisans from the Plateau Indian tribes crafted an extensive body of intricate beadwork designs for ceremonial regalia, formal accessories and daily use.
These objects were also valued as art works in their own right.
The Plateau Indian cultural region is comprised of more than 15 tribes from the Central and Southern Interior of British Columbia, Northern Idaho, Western Montana, Eastern Oregon, Eastern Washington and Northeastern California.
Since the mid-19th century, the Plateau Indian people commonly used small beads, known as seed beads, to decorate a large range of their clothing and accessories.
Seed beads were widely available and came in a variety of colors allowing for a greater wealth of beaded pieces from these tribes during that period of time.
The beadwork is known for realistic figurative designs of animals, people and complex tableaux juxtaposing figuration. Landscape and popular cultural images were common.
Flat beaded bags were developed in the Plateau region around the mid-1800s, made from woolen cloth and leather, lined with cotton fabric and typically beaded only on one side.
They were made with handles and carried as purses or as decorative accessories.
One example on display is a small purse with a pink horseshoe design. At just 6- by 4- inches with a 2-inch drop handle, it is sized for a small child.
Hanging beside the case housing the purse is a photograph, circa 1890, of a 5-year-old Plateau Indian girl holding the same bag.
Along with this rare gem are six beaded formal vests, two beaded chest plates for horses known as martingales and more than 60 purses and gloves.