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Museum hopes to bring rare mask that inspired Seahawks logo to Seattle

A rare Native mask on display at a museum in Maine has been identified as the inspiration for the Seahawks logo. (Courtesy Hudson Museum)

UPDATE:
The Burke Museum has moved fundraising for the project to Kickstarter.

With Seahawks fever again in full swing, Seattle’s Burke Museum is looking to bring a native mask said to have inspired the team’s original logo to town.

The mask gained attention during the Seahawks Super Bowl run in January, after University of Washington students began researching the origins of the team’s logo.

After plenty of speculation, Burke Museum Curator Robin K. Wright recalled conversations with Curator Emeritus Bill Holm many years earlier about the logo.

Holm identified its source as a photo of a transformation eagle mask from the Kwakwaka’wakw – an indigenous tribe from British Columbia – published in a 1950’s book on Northwest Coast art.

After a Burke Museum blog post got shared by thousands of Seahawks fans, Native artists and others, the director of the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine contacted the Burke to tell curators they had the mask in their collection and knew it was the inspiration for the logo, but didn’t know about the published photo.

Wright says Hudson curators told her the mask was part of the collection of the German surrealist artist Max Ernst, and after his death in 1976 was acquired by a private collector, William P. Palmer III. The Palmer collection came to the Hudson Museum in 1982.

Since all of the attention earlier this year, the Hudson Museum has had the mask on display.

Now, the Hudson has agreed to lend the mask to the Burke Museum to display in Seattle. But the museum needs the public’s help to get it here.

It’s launched a fundraising campaign on Kickstarter, seeking over $14,000 to pay for conserving the mask, stabilize its movable parts, insurance and shipping.

The money will also pay for travel costs for two Kwakwaka’wakw community members to travel from northern Vancouver Island, B.C. to the Burke Museum to welcome and study the mask, the museum says. Kwakwaka’wakw cultural experts will study the mask learn more about its history. Kwakwaka’wakw community members, Burke Museum and Hudson Museum curators are hoping this consultation will reveal more about which village the mask originally came from, which artist might have created it, how old it is, and its original ceremonial function in Kwakwaka’wakw culture.

The museum hopes to have it in Seattle in time to share it with visitors during the Here and Now exhibit opening at the Burke Museum on Nov. 22, 2014.

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