MissCo Museum Artifact Goes on Year-Long Tour to Chicago, St. Louis and D.C.

NOVEMBER 22, 2004 - Posted at 11:24 a.m. CST

WILSON, AR - The centerpiece artifact of an archeological collection on permanent display at the Hampson Museum State Park in Wilson is now on a year-long tour where it will be on exhibit at three prestigous American museums in Chicago, St. Louis and Washington D.C.

Archeological excavations that began in the late 19th century unearthed only three effigy head vessels at 1,000-year-old prehistoric Native American village sites located in what is today Mississippi County in northeast Arkansas.  Each Mississippian head pot is a realistically sculptured head with facial decorations of detailed tatooing, a defined hairline and multi-pierced ears.  The centerpiece effigy head vessel will be on exhibit at the Art Institute of Chicago from November 20 through January 30, 2005; the St. Louis Art Museum from late February 2005 through late May 2005; and the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington from late June 2005 through September '05.

"During this year-long tour, more individuals will see this rare archeological artifact than have seen it since its discovery," said Hampson Park Superintendent Marlon Mowdy.  "These major art museums in Chicago and St. Louis, and the natural history museum at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., will present and interpret the vessel in a context different from the normal historical and archeological interpretation," Mowdy added.

The vessel will be featured in an exhibition titled, "Hero, Hawk, and Open Hand: American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South."  The exhibit will explore the themes of a large branch of Pre-Columbian civilization that is virtually unknown to the American public, that of the midwestern and southern United States.

While the effigy head vessel is on tour, a replica of it has taken its place on exhibit in the Hampson Museum, which houses archeological artifacts from the Nodena culture, a civilization of art, religion, political structure and trading networks that developed on a meander bend in the Mississippi River in what is today northeast Arkansas.  The remarkable collection owes its preservation to the late Dr. James K. Hampson and his family.