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Release: Immediate

Peruvian weavings given to UI Museum of Art will be shown

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- "Ancient Andean Textiles from the Schnell Collection," a group of five pre-Columbian weavings that the University of Iowa Museum of Art has acquired in recent years from Eugene and Ina Schnell of Longboat Key, Fla., will be on display in the museum April 25 through June 21.

The exhibition will focus on textiles created by the Nasca, a culture that flourished in the Andean region of western Peru between 200 BC and AD 600. Because their design and production reflect social organization, technological systems, and religious and philosophical practices, the textiles are important cultural documents as well as beautiful works of art.

A large portion of the textiles come from burial sites. People of high status were buried wearing richly embroidered mantles, lace-like woven tunics and even painstakingly braided wigs. Nasca textiles were first unearthed by grave-robbers in the early part of the 20th century.

The textiles in the exhibition owe their excellent condition to the arid climate of the Andean region. The coastal deserts that lie in a narrow strip between the Andes mountains and the Pacific Ocean average less than half an inch of rain per year.

The dryness of the Peru's coastal region may also explain the emphasis on water imagery in the textiles' patterns. Many of the patterns that initially appear to be abstractions may in fact represent the elaborate irrigation systems by which water was directed from icy mountain peaks to valleys.

Other patterns in the textiles have been interpreted as references to architectural forms, zoomorphic forms, sun imagery and other elements of the Nasca world.

Although the Schnells have donated more than 800 Pre-Columbian objects to the museum since the 1970s, only recently have their gifts included Nasca textiles. This is the first time the museum has shown all of its Nasca objects in a single exhibition.

The UI Museum of Art, located on North Riverside Drive in Iowa City, is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission to the museum is free. Public metered parking is available in UI parking lots across from the museum on Riverside Drive, and adjacent to the UI Alumni Center, which is just north of the museum.