Framing the West at Monticello

"I am in fact preparing a kind of Indian hall."
--Thomas Jefferson to Meriwether Lewis

The Southeast Wall of Monticello's Entrance HallIn an ongoing effort to place Monticello within the larger universe, Jefferson established a museum in his double-story Entrance Hall, complete with maps of the world, European paintings and sculptures, and examples of items from the New World. With the arrival of several boxes and barrels sent back by Lewis and Clark from their journey, Jefferson greatly expanded the representation of North America in this museum with a dramatic display of Native American objects and animal skins, horns, and bones. Unfortunately, the fate of Jefferson's collection of Native American objects after his death remains a mystery. For the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial, Monticello turned this mystery into an opportunity to work with contemporary Native American artists who are preserving traditional art forms. The recreated Indian Hall demonstrates that the Native American art forms encountered by Lewis and Clark and appreciated by Jefferson are still alive today.

  • "Tokens of Friendship" describes how Lewis and Clark received objects from the Native American Indians they encountered and contrasts that with their more systematic collection of natural history specimens.
  • From the Trail to Monticello follows the shipment of objects and natural specimens that Lewis shipped to Jefferson in April 1805, just before setting out from Ft. Mandan.
  • The Indian Hall shows how Jefferson sought to demonstrate, visually, how the culture and geography of North America related to the rest of the world.
  • Whereabouts of Most of Jefferson's Collection follows the trail of the lost collection that Jefferson displayed at Monticello until his death.
  • Recreating the Indian Hall contains a gallery of the artifacts now on display at Monticello and explains how they were created.

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