In 2013 Thomas Weisel donated about 200 pieces from his American Indian art collection to the de Young Museum. The museum featured the gift as an exhibit of 80 pieces in a show called: Lines on the Horizon: Native American Art from the Weisel Family Collection. Recently, the exhibit was named one of the 10 best exhibitions at the de Young museum in the last ten years by San Francisco Chronicle art critic Kenneth Baker.
Weisel’s love of American Indian art comes from his interest in history, in how people lived and what they were able to create.
“I think I can understand and appreciate good art, and when I started seeing some of the Navajo weavings, and some of the pottery, I really thought these were great artistic pieces,” Weisel said. “I spent almost four decades acquiring this collection.”
The hundreds of works given to the de Young span more than 1,000 years and focus on the indigenous arts of the American Southwest, including 11th century Mimbres ceramics, masterful Navajo weavings and the first Plains ledger drawings.
Colin Bailey, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, said he admires Weisel’s “awe and respect for art, and the makers of the art.”
Matthew Robb, curator of the Arts of the Americas at the de Young, said the gift will allow the museum to “present Native American art in a more holistic way. We will be able to tell a story about Native American art on the West Coast, really from Alaska to the Southwest.”