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Online Exhibitions

Join Us at the Campfire!

Catlin Classroom

From the Smithsonian American Art Museum's Campfire Stories with George Catlin

Visit our award-winning multimedia Web site Campfire Stories with George Catlin: An Encounter of Two Cultures! This online exhibition showcases the art and life of painter George Catlin. Determined to record the "manners and customs" of Native Americans, Catlin traveled thousands of miles from 1830 to 1836, visiting 50 tribes living west of the Mississippi River from present day North Dakota to Oklahoma. The resulting portraits and landscapes reveal as much about the artist as they do Native peoples.

Join the campfire to hear contemporary Indians and experts talk about Catlin and the people and places he visited. Speakers contrast white and Native attitudes toward land ownership, explore prairie ecology, and describe tribal leadership qualities. Our curator also highlights the traditions of portraiture and the sublime landscape in American painting.

Campfire Stories is a rich interdisciplinary resource for teachers and students. It offers primary source documents, such as Catlin's sketchbook and his published writings about Plains cultures. The site also provides a timeline and lesson plans linked with education standards. Go to our Education area for more information about Smithsonian American Art Museum resources.

If you find this artist especially intriguing, you might want to view our traveling show George Catlin and His Indian Gallery, opening February 26 at the National Museum of the American Indian in New York City. Visit our online shop for a beautiful exhibition catalogue and video as well!