Grand Opening of Moundville Museum

My husband Daniel Bigay (Danny) was one of the artists that was invited to be a part of the grand opening of the Archaeological Museum at Moundville Archaeological Park in Moundville, Alabama this past weekend.  This museum has undergone a 5 million dollar remodel over a 10 year period.  It was awesome!


The artists that were invited to this museum opening also had a hand in creating a lot of the period correct art pieces for the new exhibits.  All the artists are top notched artists.

Danny created ancient flutes, gourd rattles, and gourd bowls.  It was such an honor and joy to see the pieces that Danny created being displayed as a part of these spectacular  exhibits that will be there for a long time to come and that will help to inform and educate the thousands that pass through this museum.


Hopefully the University of Alabama will decide to publish a catalog of all the artwork in these exhibits, so everyone can have easy access, know who the artists are, and what each artist created for the exhibits.

There was a reception on Friday night and there were about 150 or so in attendance.  There were people from various walks of life.  There were scholars, board members, collectors, investors, artists, individuals from the Smithsonian Museum, and many others.

The food and entertainment was wonderful.  The Warriors of AniKituhwa – A Cherokee dance group was the entertainment as well as the educators for the evening.  We have seen them perform many times and we are never disappointed with their performance.  They are also a great bunch of guys.


Dan Townsend was the featured artist this past weekend.  If you are not familiar with Dan’s artwork, let me say he is one of the top shell carvers in the country, if not the top shell carver.  Danny and I certainly think so.

Dan carves a lot of shells with old Mississippian designs and they are just beautiful.  We highly recommend Dan’s artwork.  Dan has been an influence and an inspiration in Danny’s shell carving artwork.  Dan and his wife, Vicki are great folks.

We also had the great pleasure and honor to meet F. Kent Reilly III.  Kent was one of the contributors of “Hero Hawk and Open Hand: American Indian Art of the Ancient Midwest and South”.  One of our favorite books that we use as a reference.


Kent has been a great inspiration to Danny when it comes to his Mississippian artwork and cultural information.

I think most everyone enjoyed the evening, especially the hologram of the “Starry Past”.  It was so life like and it was wonderful hearing a story about the old Mississippian designs and seeing them come to life!  Wow is all I can say.

On Saturday, all the artist had booths setup outside the museum and they were demonstrating how they create their individual art.  There was also story telling, dancing and flute music (Daniel Bigay was the flute player for the day).


It was a beautiful day with a breeze that made the day enjoyable in Alabama.  There was a good turn out of people who seem to have lots of questions for us.   What an enjoyable day meeting new people, talking about the past and visiting with other artist, whom a lot of them we know from doing shows with over the years and various other activities.

As the day was winding down, there was a young group of boys playing in front of our booth.  I was struck by several things.  They were all playing ball together so well and they were boys of varying cultural backgrounds, or so it seems through the eyes of an observer.  I was touched by this, so I took a photo of them.  Watching them play ball and interacting so well together, gives me great hope for future generations to come.

Here is a picture of the boys playing ball:


The museum staff were some of the nicest folks and they were all so helpful and gracious to everyone.  We want to thank everyone for their hospitality and we want to send out a special thanks to Betsy Irwin.

Now, the Moundville museum is awesome and the grand opening event was great fun, but I would be remised if I didn’t mentioned the grounds where the museum resides.  These grounds are ancient and sacred to the Southeastern Indians and many others today.

The grounds have earth mounds built all over them from the Mississippian period.  They are just breath taking to see and to try and imagine our ancestors building these huge mounds by one basket full of earth at a time.  The human spirit is amazing and we can perform amazing feats when we work together.  This is a great of example of that.

A lot of the designs that Danny uses in his artwork are old Mississippian designs.  So to be walking on these sacred grounds and seeing these mounds, words just can’t describe our feelings.


A lot of the old Mississippian art pieces that we have seen in the books we have here at the house, we were able to actually see on display in the museum.  It was great being able to actually see these pieces.

We had a great time and were so glad and honored that we were invited to this event.

We would recommend going to see the museum and the mounds at Moundville, if you are interested in such things or if you want to become more interested in the Mississippian art and culture.  It may give you more insight to Danny’s artwork.  I don’t think you will be disappointed.

Links of Interest:



6 thoughts on “Grand Opening of Moundville Museum

  1. What a nice, personal write-up! I am glad you came, participated, enjoyed. Hope you will be there for the Native American Festival Oct 6-9.
    Die-hard Volunteer

  2. Kay:

    We so appreciate you posting this! It was great to see everyone at the opening. The celebration events went very smoothly considering we had a Friday night donor reception, a Saturday morning breakfast and a wedding at the conference center, along with the public activities on Saturday. Talk about shuffling equipment around!

    I want to thank everyone that participated in the opening festivities as well as the artists that created works for the exhibit. Also, our volunteers were wonderful throughout the entire process, including the opening celebration. We couldn’t have done it without you. Thank you one and all!

  3. Pingback: 2010 in review « Living on Paint Creek

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