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Gilcrease's Native American Collection

Thomas Gilcrease sought to tell the story of America, with an emphasis on Native American cultures and the history of the West, through art. The museum founder’s fundamental interest in Native America was due in part to his own Creek Indian ancestry. Evidence of his interest is dramatically illustrated by the vast amount of Native American art and artifacts he gathered. Collectors of Native American art objects often place a premium on them in accordance with their relative age. Gilcrease knew the value of that practice, yet he also knew the importance of collecting contemporary Native American art. He was patron to a number of Native American artists of his time and purchased over 500 paintings by 20th-century Native American artists alone. As a result, the museum not only tells the story of Native America through exhibition of objects thousands of years old, but also through modern paintings and sculptures.