Hei tiki pendant at Cleveland Museum of Art

‘Stories from Storage’ at the Cleveland Museum of Art

See works from the museum’s permanent collection, including some that have not been on public display for years, in this unique exhibition. 

To the untrained eye, the pendant, or hei-tiki, from New Zealand’s Māori culture may be seen as an item of decoration, but it is a treasure passed down from generation to generation. It is believed to hold prestige and power — or mana — absorbed from ancestors who previously owned it. In February, the piece goes on view for the first time in more than 15 years as part of the Cleveland Museum of Art’s “Stories from Storage” exhibition.

Susan Bergh, curator of pre-Columbian and Native North American art and chair of the Art of Africa and the Americas, selected the hei-tiki as one of 29 objects organized around the theme of untold histories.  

“I wanted to give the artifacts display time in the gallery,” says Bergh, adding that many of them are not seen often. “I decided to put together art from several areas: Pacific Islands, Eastern South America and Mexico.”

Bergh is one of 17 curators who have chosen pieces for “Stories from Storage,” along with the museum’s director, chief curator and assistant director of academic affairs. The exhibition runs Feb. 7 through May 16.

Some of the participating curators selected objects that in some way reflect the times in which we are living. Sooa Im McCormick, curator of Korean art, is showcasing “Playbook for Solitude,” a section that showcases serene works of art, like a glazed porcelain jar made in the 1700s. Gerhard Lutz, curator of medieval art, reflects the plague in Europe during the 1300s with pieces assembled around the theme “Art in the Time of the Black Death.”

“It’s going to be an extremely varied exhibition that will take you through the entire breadth and width of the collection,” Bergh says. “It lets you dip into areas without being overwhelmed.” 

11150 East Blvd., Cleveland 44106, 216/421-7350, cma.org