The Heard Museum is pleased to announce our new Signature Exhibition, Substance of Stars, opening November 6, 2022. This multi-sensory experience shares the creation stories that form the foundational knowledge systems and inspire artistic production for the Haudenosaunee, Yup’ik, Diné, and Akimel O’otham Tribes. Substance of Stars will combine historic and contemporary works with immersive digital technologies to showcase the cosmological and spiritual practices of each community.


The culmination of a three-year collaboration with four Indigenous Nations, the exhibition examines the collection of the Heard Museum from Indigenous perspectives of their own cultural production, across a variety of media. It incorporates Indigenous languages, knowledge, and spiritual values as well as the foundational origin stories and sky knowledge that figure prominently in the national identities of Indigenous peoples.


New works by contemporary Indigenous artists have been commissioned for the exhibition and will be featured prominently alongside historic material and site-specific immersive media. These include works by Marie Watt (Seneca), Jacob Butler (O’otham), and Steven Yazzie (Diné), as well as a range of contemporary and cultural arts drawn from the Heard’s permanent collection. Giving an ongoing changing life to the presentation are a variety of key works being lent to the Heard from partner institutions: the Fenimore Museum; the Honolulu Museum of Art; the Rochester Museum of Science and Culture; and several private collectors. This exhibition is guest curated by Sean Mooney and Chuna McIntyre (Central Yup'ik,) with advisory support from Josephine Aloralrea (Cup'ik, Nunivak Island), Vernon Chimegalrea (Central Yup’ik), Jamie Jacobs (Seneca), Michael Galban (Mono Lake / Paiute), Thomas Porter (Mohawk), Ansley Jemison (Seneca), Marie Watt (Seneca), Velma Kee Craig (Diné), Manuelito Wheeler (Diné), Steven Yazzie (Diné / Laguna Pueblo / Anglo), Orlando White (Diné), Barnaby Lewis (Akimel O’otham), David Martinez (Akimel O’odham / Hia Ced O’odham / Mexican),  and Jacob Butler (Akimel O’otham).

Video: Kiliii Yüyan (Nanai/Hèzhé (Siberian East Asian Indigenous), 2018, off the coast of Barrow, Alaska. Shot during the making of Gift of the Whale (2018).