Heard Museum’s new exhibition: ‘Substance of Stars’

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The Heard Museum has a groundbreaking new exhibition, “Substance of Stars,” a three-year collaboration with four Indigenous communities, offering a captivating examination of the museum’s collection through the lens of Native identities.

The communities include: the O’odham, the Diné (Navajo Nation), the Yup’ik and the Haudenosaunee.

With Indigenous curators and historians from each community, the exhibition encompasses diverse media and time periods, incorporating languages, sky knowledge and spiritual values. Families can also experience the awe-inspiring 360-degree Sky-Dome gallery, where virtual landscapes from each community envelop the viewer.

Velma Craig, Assistant Curator at the Heard Museum, joined Arizona Horizon to discuss the details of the new exhibition.

When you enter the exhibition, the first thing that you will come upon is the Sky-Dome. The dome is two stories tall, and there is 360-degree video, which is landscapes and sounds from the four different communities,” Craig said.

Craig offered insight about the different curators who were involved in the new exhibition.

“Each of the curators had a chance to put together a team, and the teams consist of other Native people who are knowledgable in the themes that are being covered so we can put together a solid story,” Craig said.

“For the Navajo section, I focused on the coyote origin story, and one of the main stories that starts out the exhibition is the creation of constellations and why the stars are up in the sky the way that they are,” Craig said.

Craig’s inspiration came from where she grew up on the Navajo reservation away from light pollution.

“This exhibition tries to pay respect to our ancestors who gave us advanced knowledge prior to colonization,” Craig said.

Velma Craig, Assistant Curator for the Heard Museum

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