September 15, 2007

Burke Basket Featured in National Education Initiative

The National Endowment for the Humanities recently launched "Picturing America", an educational outreach initiative that gives students throughout the United States access to some of the nation's most important works of art. A baleen basket from the Burke Museum's permanent collection is one of forty pieces selected by the NEH to represent the most significant accomplishments of American art and history.

The basket was created by Native Inupiaq artist Carl Toolak in 1940 at Pt. Barrow, Alaska. Toolak crafted the basket with the motif of a seal (sea animal), using the materials of coiled baleen (whale bone) and ivory. Its dimensions are 9.0 cm in height and 8.5 cm in diameter.

The goal of "Picturing America" is to help young people learn the nation's history by introducing them to some of America's greatest works of art. Double-sided laminated reproductions of images, representing 1,000 years of achievements in North American art, are distributed to classrooms throughout the United States. These reproductions will be accompanied by a Teacher's Resource Book that provides background information and lesson plans for use by educators. The NEH has already received 25,000 applications for these materials from schools and public libraries across the country. For more information, please visit