Permanent Mesoamerican Collection
(This exhibition is temporarily closed while undergoing gallery repairs and a renovation. Reopening Summer 2023.) 

Earth, Fire & Stone: Kenneth E. Stratton Collection of Mesoamerican Art

September of 1992 marked the opening of the Fresno Art Museum’s Hans Sumpf Gallery of Mexican Art. It was an opening highlighted by an installation entitled Masterpieces of Mesoamerican Pre-Columbian Ceramics from the Kenneth E. Stratton Collection. The gallery was designed to give the impression of walking into a space similar in feeling to a shaft tomb as most of the ceramic artworks from Kenneth Stratton’s bequest originally came from just such Mesoamerican burial sites. Prompted by Stratton’s gift to the Museum, the Sumpf family contributed the necessary funds to house the collection. Because Hans Sumpf and Kenneth Stratton had been lifelong friends, it is fitting that this gallery honors the life of two remarkable men who cared passionately about their community and the vital culture of our southern neighbors.

The majority of the Stratton collection on display was created before the Europeans entered the New World and represent cultures from the area now known as West Mexico and date from 500 to 2500 years in age. The collection’s strength is evident in the outstanding examples representing Olmec, Tlatilco, Chupícuaro, Nayarit, Jalisco, Colima, Teotihuacan, Veracruz, Oaxaca, and the Lagunillas style. This splendid collection, gathered over the years by Kenneth E. Stratton, has enabled the Museum to foster a deep appreciation of the rich cultural heritage of the Mexican and Mexican-American people.

Andean Mesoamerican Textiles and Artifacts

In the spring of 1995, the Fresno Art Museum introduced its audience to the Mesoamerican Andean collection assembled by the weaver Janet B. Hughes. Representing regional variations drawn from a number of cultures, the Hughes Collection of Andean Mesoamerican Art clearly indicates that weaving was one of the earliest forms of artistic expression as well as a means of status identification for the ancient peoples of Peru.

Numbering over 650 artifacts, the Hughes Collection features both textiles and ceramic artifacts from the southernmost point of Peru. Carved wooden objects, including ceremonial vessels known as keros, are included in the current exhibition along with a selection of ancient textiles recovered from tombs throughout Peru. A group of ceramic vessels from various cultures once living in this arid region reveal examples of the stylized zoomorphic and anthropomorphic forms that are repeated in some of the vivid colored textiles. Even though the Andean potters employed simple techniques in the production of ceremonial and utilitarian vessels, they crafted vessels with graceful lines and pleasing proportions. The sculpted vessels may take on these same anthropomorphic or zoomorphic shapes and often include painted designs that have been applied to the surface. Nazca, Moche, Lambayeque, Chancay, Chiribaya, and Arica cultures are represented in the ceramic works.


Diego Rivera's El dia de las flores, Xochilmilco

Currently on loan to San Francisco MOMA for Diego Rivera's America exhibition through January 3, 2023. Then on loan to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonille, Arkansas, March 11 through September 30, 2023. 


This original painting is a very important work in FAM's permanent collection. It was painted around 1926 and represents a group of peasants near Xochimilco, Mexico. The work was purchased by Marguerite Lopez of Fresno directly from Rivera. Upon her death, the painting was purchased from her estate by Caroline and Clarence Harris who gifted the painting to the Fresno Art Museum in 1976. The painting is currently on view along with original correspondence between Rivera and Lopez and other related items of interest.

Image: Diego Rivera, El Dia de Las Flores, Xochimilco, 1926, Oil on canvas, 25" x 31", FAM76.1, © 2018 Banco de México Diego Rivera Frida Kahlo Museums Trust, Mexico, D.F. / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York