Exhibiting Historical Art: Out of the Vault: Stories of People and Things

Modern Life

The exact journey of this particular piece is unknown but eventually it was picked up by a man named Donald J. Erickson. Mr. Erickson, a partner and chairman of the accounting firm Arthur Andersen & Co. and resident of the Chicago area, acquired the piece prior to 1977. He owned the headband until his death in 1987. At this point it was transferred over to his wife, Irma A. Erickson and then their daughter Cynthia A. Sandell in 2001. Though we cannot know what prompted Mr. Erickson to obtain this piece, his personal interests would have been represented in the value he placed upon the object. For his wife and daughter it is likely that the gold took on the added significance of remembering him. With a donation from Mrs. Sandell, the headband came to rest in Vanderbilt’s collection in 2006, along with five other Pre-Columbian gold pieces from the family, two of which are also now on display in the Vanderbilt Fine Arts Gallery. In its new context in the Vanderbilt gallery, the piece continues to add value to its story. In its place displayed in the gallery the piece now takes on the importance of telling its story and teaching viewers about its past.

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