American Museum of Asmat Art
St Paul, MN
The purpose of the American Museum of Asmat Art is to preserve, present and research the extraordinary art and culture of the Asmat. The Asmat are a semi-nomadic people who inhabit the rain forest and tribal rivers along the southwest coast of Papua (formerly Irian Jaya), Indonesia. With one of the most comprehensive Asmat collections in the United States, the museum accomplished its mission through a series of rotating exhibitions in its galleries, through national art tours, extensive public and school educational programs, and by conducting research on and conserving the objects in its permanent collection.
The Museum consolidates and expands upon the efforts of the Crosier Order in helping the Asmat retain and celebrate their rich cultural heritage. Forty years of culturally-sensitive work with the remote Asmat people precedes this venture. Much of that work dates back to 1958 when the Crosiers of the United States responded to a bold invitation to serve among the Asmat people in a land incredibly distant and different from that to which they were accustomed. The American members of this originally Dutch and Belgian based religious order founded in the Middle Ages have tried to maintain the integrity and dignity of Asmat culture by insisting that all members of their order be trained in anthropology prior to engaging in work in the Asmat region, by incorporating indigenous art and symbolism into church structures, and by encouraging the Asmat to continue their carving traditions, and by collecting and preserving Asmat art.
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