The Burke Museum presented the first comprehensive exhibition of contemporary Northwest Coast Native art from the Burke's own collections, In the Spirit of the Ancestors, from Mar. 3, 2007 – Sept. 3, 2007. Selected by two Burke Museum curators and two guest curators from more than 2,400 20th & 21st century pieces in the museum's ethnology collection, this was the first exhibition of the Burke's contemporary Northwest Coast collection that featured a broad mix of media, including sculpture, weaving, paintings, and prints, together in one major show.
Drawing from significant collections donated by Arthur B. Steinman, Simon Ottenberg, Margaret Blackman and Ed Hall among others, the exhibit features over 70 works made since 1985. The work of over 60 artists is exhibited, including Art Thompson, Hyacinth Joe David, Susan Point, Marvin Oliver, Manuel Salazar, Robert and Reg Davidson, Dorothy Grant, Isabel Rorick, Calvin Hunt, Beau Dick, Klatle-Bhi, Ken Mowatt and Clarissa Hudson. Several major new pieces were donated and acquired specifically for this exhibition, such as a six-panel wall sculpture donated by Susan Point.
In complement to this exhibit, the Burke also hosted Our People, Our Land, Our Images, an exhibit of contemporary indigenous photography, from Mar. 3, 2007 – May 28, 2007. This traveling photography exhibit was organized by CN Gorman Museum, UC Davis. In the Spirit of the Ancestors and Our People, Our Land, Our Images worked together to create a complex portrait of contemporary Native art today.