John Putnam, Collector and Donor
John Putnam has collected Native American artifacts, Northwest Coast basketry and Alaskan Arctic material in particular, for many years. In 1942, nearly sixty years ago, John Putnam loaned a throwing stick, used to hunt rabbits, that he found in New Mexico to Dr. Erna Gunther who was then the director of the Burke Museum. This loan was later converted to a gift, and thus became the first object given by John to the Burke Museum. John has gone on to donate a total of 635 objects to the Burke Museum's Anthropology Division, most recently a Tlingit canoe thwart and a northern Northwest Coast silver bracelet. Ninety-seven of the 635 objects in the Burke's Putnam collection are baskets, and many of these were donated during the past year, specifically for the exhibit "Entwined with Life: Native American Basketry."
For the past year, John has been a co-curator with Rebecca Andrews and Robin K. Wright, of a major exhibit, Entwined with Life: Native American Basketry. The exhibit features the best of our permanent collection of over 5,000 Native American baskets, many of which have been donated or are promised gifts from John Putnam.
Here are a few of John's baskets that are in our exhibit Entwined With Life.