Dallas Museum of Art Presents Groundbreaking Cultural Exploration of The Legend of Quetzalcoatl in Southern Mexico

Exhibition Features 150 Rare Artworks from the United States, Mexico, and Europe

The Dallas Museum of Art presents The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico, the first large-scale exploration of the ancient kingdoms of southern Mexico and their patron deity, Quetzalcoatl, an incarnation of the spirit force of wind and rain that combined the attributes of a serpent with those of the quetzal bird, thus the name “Plumed Serpent.” On view from July 29 through November 25, 2012, this groundbreaking exhibition features 150 objects loaned from museums and private collections in Mexico, Europe, and the United States. The Los Angeles Times described The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico as “dazzling [with] numerous ‘wow’ moments,” and the Huffington Post called the exhibition “imaginative . . . a dramatic and thoroughly engaging exploration of the art of ancient Mexico.” These rare artworks, which are more than five centuries old, trace the development of an extensive trade network that resulted in a period of international entrepreneurship and innovation that spread across ancient Mexico, the American Southwest, and Central America during the Postclassic (AD 900–1521) and early colonial periods. The extraordinary wonders produced by these confederacies are explored in codices, shell, textiles, and other precious materials.

“With The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico, we are pleased to invite the community to learn about and engage with these stunning artifacts from the ancient Americas,” said Maxwell L. Anderson, The Eugene McDermott Director of the Dallas Museum of Art.

The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico, organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, focuses on an era of cultural innovation in Mesoamerica. Trade networks, closely linked to the deity Quetzalcoatl, fostered the exchange of both goods and ideas across vast distances. These southern Mexican kingdoms, which recognized Quetzalcoatl as their founder and patron, became, and continue to be, the Children of the Plumed Serpent.

“This exhibition includes wonderful and extraordinary objects that rarely go on tour,” stated Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, and curator of the Dallas presentation. “Among them is the Codex Nuttall, which for the first time is on view in the United States, on loan from the British Museum.”

The Codex Nuttall, one of a small number of known Mexican codices (illustrated screenfold manuscript books) dating to pre-Hispanic times, is made of deerskin and comprises forty-seven leaves. One side of the document relates the history of important centers in the Mixtec region, while the other, starting at the opposite end, records the genealogy, marriages, and political and military feats of the Mixtec ruler Eight Deer Jaguar-Claw. The Codex Nuttall, which was first published in 1902, is one of the few Mesoamerican pictorial documents to have escaped destruction.

The Museum and WFAA Channel 8 will host a special Family Celebration on Saturday, July 28, with family activities and free admission to the Museum. Visitors will have the opportunity to be the first to experience The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico during a free preview day as part of the July 28 Family Celebration. The Museum will celebrate The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico during the August 17 Late Night with concerts, films, tours, family activities, and more. Additional programs, including lectures and gallery talks, will be scheduled throughout the run of the exhibition. For dates and details, visit DallasMuseumofArt.org.

The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico was organized by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and co-curated by LACMA curators the late Dr. Virginia Fields and Dr. Victoria Lyall, together with guest curator Dr. John Pohl, Adjunct Professor, Department of Art History at UCLA. Dr. Roslyn A. Walker, Senior Curator of the Arts of Africa, the Americas, and the Pacific and The Margaret McDermott Curator of African Art at the Dallas Museum of Art, is the curator of the Dallas presentation.

The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico requires a special exhibition ticket of $14 for adults with discounts for students, military personnel, and seniors; DMA members and children under 12 are free. Active-duty military personnel and their immediate family members will receive free admission to the exhibition through September 2, 2012, as part of the Blue Star Museums Program.

The exhibition is made possible by the National Endowment for the Humanities. It is supported in part by the National Endowment for the Arts and by an indemnity from the Federal Council on the Arts and the Humanities. The organizers are grateful for the special collaboration of the National Council for Culture and the Arts (CONACULTA), Mexico, and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), Mexico. The Legacy of the Plumed Serpent in Ancient Mexico in Dallas is presented by Texas Instruments. Additional support provided by the Selz Foundation and Northwestern Mutual Financial Network. Air transportation provided by American Airlines. Promotional support provided by The Fairmont Dallas.

A catalogue featuring new research and groundbreaking analysis by more than fifteen leading scholars, archaeologists, and curators—including Virginia Fields (1952–2011), LACMA senior curator and co-department head of Latin American art; John M.D. Pohl; and Victoria Lyall—accompanies the exhibition.

About the Dallas Museum of Art
Established in 1903, the Dallas Museum of Art (DMA) ranks among the leading art institutions in the country and is distinguished by its innovative exhibitions and groundbreaking educational programs. At the heart of the Museum and its programs is its global collection, which encompasses more than 25,000 works and spans 5,000 years of history, representing a full range of world cultures. Located in the vibrant Arts District of downtown Dallas, the Museum welcomes more than half a million visitors annually and acts as a catalyst for community creativity, engaging people of all ages and backgrounds with a diverse spectrum of programming, from exhibitions and lectures to concerts, literary events, and dramatic and dance presentations.

The Dallas Museum of Art is supported in part by the generosity of Museum members and donors and by the citizens of Dallas through the City of Dallas/Office of Cultural Affairs and the Texas Commission on the Arts.

For more information, please contact:
Jill Bernstein
Dallas Museum of Art
JBernstein@DallasMuseumofArt.org