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Flights of Fancy: Birds in Pre-Columbian Art

October 1, 2009 – February 28, 2010


Birds abound in the arts of the ancient Americas. Soaring falcons, fish-eating sea birds, hovering hummingbirds, and brilliantly colored parrots captured the imagination of peoples from Mesoamerica to the Andes. Artists depicted species they observed perching, eating, and flying. They also created abstract figures with beaks and wings, recognizable as avian only in a general sense. In other cases, they represented bird-creatures with fanciful attributes that existed only in the domain of supernatural belief. Their creations demonstrate a tremendous power of observation and an enduring fascination with feathered flying creatures of this world and beyond.

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