Celebrating the rich cultural heritage of Latin America, the Palice Gallery showcases many fine examples of Pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial Art ranging from 1600 BCE to the 19th century. These objects express the spiritual, secular, and political lives of the societies that inhabited these regions over a span of 3,000 years.
Included in the Palice Gallery are selections of Pre-Columbian textiles, figurines, jewelry, and ceramic vessels that emphasize topical themes such as identity, ritual, ancestor worship, and daily life. This collection represents many cultures including the Olmec, Aztec, Maya, and Inca, who thrived at different times and in varied geographical areas from the southern tip of Chile to Mexico. They formed sophisticated political systems, refined domestic agricultural practices, and developed medical and surgical expertise. These cultures excelled at ceramics, sculpture, mural painting, gold and silver smithing, and weaving. In addition, they created monumental architecture, intricate hieroglyphic writing, and complex astronomical and mathematical systems.
The collection also features works from Colonial Latin America. From its first voyages to the Americas in 1492 until its last African colony gained independence in 1975, the Spanish Empire was one of the first and largest world powers. Of its many territories in the Americas, the most important colonies were the Viceroyalty of New Spain (1519-1821) and the Viceroyalty of Peru (1542-1842). Spanish rule precipitated a blending of cultures and an overlaying of European traditions in art, architecture, and decorative arts on the existing indigenous practices. Skilled native craftspeople were trained to aid the construction of churches and the creation of paintings and sculptures to fill them, resulting in an entirely new, Mestizo (people of mixed descent) style which influenced fine art and folk traditions after Mexican independence.