CU Antique Indian Jewelry On Display At Benefit Auction For Natural History Museum

April 25, 2008

Jewelry samples from an outstanding collection of antique Southwest American Indian jewelry stored in vaults at the University of Colorado at Boulder's Museum of Natural History will be on display to the public in downtown Boulder May 2 and May 3.

The collection will be shown in conjunction with a special fund-raising sale of American Indian jewelry from the Toh-Atin Gallery in Durango, Colo., from noon to 9 p.m. May 2 and from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. May 3 at the Belvedere Belgian Chocolate Shop at 1468 Pearl St., Ste. 120.

The sale will benefit the Joe Ben Wheat Textile Collection at the CU Museum. About 300 pieces of high-quality jewelry from the Navajo, Zuni, Hopi and Santa Domingo tribes will be available for purchase.

The late Joe Ben Wheat, a CU archeologist and long-time museum curator, was well known for his knowledge of Navajo weavings. But he also was an avid collector of sterling silver and turquoise jewelry fashioned by the tribes of the Southwest. He donated the collection to the museum before his death in 1997.

"The Wheat Collection is a selection of rare and carefully collected pieces that we are delighted to exhibit," said Steve Lekson, curator and professor of anthropology at CU-Boulder. "It is rare to share the collection in this type of venue, but it will provide many with the opportunity to see what the museum has to offer."

The jewelry show is a new fund-raising event for the museum. Among the pieces for sale are concho belts, squash blossom necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings and handcrafted shell and turquoise necklaces from some of the Southwest's finest artists.

The gallery also sponsors an annual Navajo weaving auction in the fall in Denver to raise funds for the Textile Fund. For information on the jewelry sale or weaving auction, please call the CU Museum at 303-492-6892, Toh-Atin Gallery at 1-800-525-0384 or go the museum's Web site at cumuseum.colorado.edu/ .

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