One of the Most Diverse Indian Art Collections in the World
The David T. Vernon Collection, which was gifted to the park in 1972 by Laurance S. Rockefeller, contains 1,416 pieces in total. A fantastic representation of social and cultural objects used by tribes across America from 1830-1940, the collection features a visually stunning array of items including clothing, jewelry, weapons and tools. Many of the pieces can be traced directly back to individuals—a rare feature among collections of this type.
The Vernon Collection Today
Since 1972, a portion of the Vernon Collection has been displayed at Grand Teton’s Colter Bay Visitor Center. In recent years the park identified hundreds of the most vulnerable pieces and sent them to the Western Archaeological and Conservation Center (WACC), a National Park Service conservation and curatorial facility in Tucson, AZ. In summer 2012, 34 treated items that represent local tribes were returned to a small renovated exhibit space at Colter Bay. Summer 2013 marked the unveiling of 46 restored pieces that demonstrate the collection’s vast scope, at the Craig Thomas Discovery and Visitor Center in Moose. The items are professionally mounted in museum-quality cases funded by Grand Teton National Park Foundation.
The Vernon Collection forms a collective memory of tribes and traditions that are very much alive today and highlights the importance of preserving and sharing our country’s cultural history for all time. Over 1,000 pieces remain at the WACC for museum-quality care and protection. In the future, the Foundation aims to collaborate further with the park to ensure the entire Vernon Collection is returned to its home in Grand Teton for the enjoyment of the public for years to come.