By Sean W. Coakley
Visitors to this exhibit will be blown away by its most prominent feature, the eerie yet elegant masks of the spirit animals of many Native Northwest Pacific tribes, such as the star of the exhibit, the trickster Raven, who stole the sun from the Sky Chief to give to humans. There are also masks of the Frog, Bear, Whale and even the Mosquito, and each one shows the superb craftsmanship of these tribes. Masks aren’t the only thing patrons should prepare to be astounded by, though. There are numerous other Native American ornaments and decorations on display, such as the many examples of beautiful totem poles these tribes are so well known for. Visitors will see feast bowls from the Tlingit tribe, a whistle made by the Haida people, a talking stick from the Kwak’waka’wakw and much more.Children can partake in the interactive crafts which teach of Native American quilting. Older guests will be interested in the work of Edward S. Curtis on display, which include stunning photos that capture the traditions and customs of these Northwest Pacific tribes. They display hunting ceremonies, fishing expeditions and even a look at potlatches, which were huge ceremonies of good tidings where a chief distributed food and gifts to all his guests. And, for anyone interested, there are videos that show how some of the works of art in the exhibit were made, including one clip of the artist putting the finishing touches on one of the totem poles on display. Of course, many wares of similar artistry are for sale at the gift shop downstairs, along with story books filled with vibrant pictures that will teach and entertain your children for years to come.