Bia Seeks Safe Storage Place For Indian Artworks
Top U.S. officials on Indian matters are trying to decide how to protect a valuable collection of 23,000 pieces of art, some of which are perched atop filing cabinets in Washington offices, a spokesman for the Bureau of Indian Affairs said Thursday.
They belong to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, a part of the Interior Department.
Press officer Thomas Sweeney would not comment on a report in USA Today that some of the 8,000 objects being held in Washington are stored near pipes that pose a danger of water damage.
Two new officials in the Interior Department, Kevin Gover, assistant interior secretary for Indian affairs, and John Berry, assistant secretary for policy, are working on recommendations made by a department task force last July.
“They want to get a solution as soon as possible,” Sweeney said, but would not estimate when that would be.
There has been discussion of turning the collection over to the National Museum of the American Indian, which hopes to complete a vast storehouse in suburban Suitland, Md., by the end of the year for nearly a million objects of its own. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, R-Colo., chairman of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, likes that idea.
But Carol Grace Hicks, spokeswoman for the museum, said the idea had been turned down. The museum, now in New York, is expected to open in Washington in 2002.
USA Today said most of the 23,000 pieces, including pottery, sculpture, paintings, baskets and dolls, have never been seen by the public.
The collection was described as invaluable, containing masterpieces that represent the best of the last half-century of Indian culture.
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