Published: Sept. 1, 2009

wheat textile blanket

Jeff Wells, CU Museum of Natural History

During John Wesley Powell’s epic western adventures during the late 1860s and early 1870s, including a pioneering float trip down the Colorado River, he collected Native American blankets.

Some of Powell’s rare and priceless blankets are part of the CU Museum of Natural History Joe Ben Wheat collection, considered one of the finest Southwest textile collections in the world. Visitors can view portions of the collection in the revolving exhibit Navajo Weaving: Diamonds, Dreams, Landscapes on display in four-month installations through May 30, 2010.

Wheat was the museum’s anthropology curator between 1953 and 1987. He studied textiles created by the Navajo and Pueblo Indians, collecting about 900 weavings and crucial information about Native American history, art and tradition.

See the exhibit news release and a video of the Wheat collection at and search for “Joe Ben Wheat.”