Shortcut Navigation:

Totems to Turquoise

For thousands of years, the Native peoples of North America have made extraordinary jewelry and other adornments. Today throughout the continent that tradition is still alive—and vibrant.

Exhibition Highlights



Some of the most spectacular jewelry then and now has been created by the peoples of two very different geographic regions, the American Southwest and the Northwest Coast.


Native American Cosmology

Different Native groups see the world in fundamentally different ways, and these world views are expressed in their jewelry.



Southwest Native societies have complicated social structures.


Master Artists

Today's Native artists, like the master artists before them, balance traditional forms with individual styles and new ideas.


Contemporary Artists

While many jewelers still work in classic silver-and-turquoise styles, Navajo jewelry today is strongly marked by its great diversity and innovation.



The mesas and canyons of the Southwest have been home to Native peoples for thousands of years.


Coming Together

Although separated by 1,000 miles and by dramatic differences in climate, landscape and traditions, Northwest Coast and Southwest cultures share some striking similarities.


Meet the Curators

The exhibition Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest is co-curated by Peter Whiteley, Curator of North American Ethnology in the Museum's Division of Anthropology, and Lois Dubin, lecturer, curator, and author of several authoritative books on Native American jewelry. Advising artists are Jim Hart and Jesse Monongya.


Behind the Scenes

Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest was designed and produced by the Museum's Department of Exhibition, under the direction of David Harvey, Vice President for Exhibition.

The educational materials and programs for the Totems to Turquoise: Native North American Jewelry Arts of the Northwest and Southwest exhibition at the American Museum of Natural History were supported in part by:

Barbara G. Fleischman
Phylis P. Fogelson

Totems to Turquoise

American Museum of Natural History

Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Phone: 212-769-5100

Open daily from 10 am - 5:45 pm
except on Thanksgiving and Christmas
Maps and Directions

Enlighten Your Inbox

Stay informed about Museum news and research, events, and more!