The Maximilian-Bodmer Expedition Exhibit


The Maximilian-Bodmer Expedition:

Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832-1834

 JULY 9  – EXTENDED through OCTOBER 30

At the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum – Alexandria, Minnesota, by special arrangement with the Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, Nebraska.

The Maximilian-Bodmer Expedition: Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832-1834, an exhibition to be shown at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, features selections from a new 20th century edition of spectacular hand-colored engravings, printed in 1989 by Joslyn Art Museum in partnership with Alecto Historical Editions in London, struck from the original ca. 1840 plates created by Swiss artist Karl Bodmer. The show exhibits 40 framed prints, assembled from the eighty-one prints in the new edition of Bodmer’s images.





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In 1832 Prince Maximilian, a German nobleman and naturalist, and Karl Bodmer, a Swiss artist, embarked on a voyage of discovery up the Missouri River for the purpose of documenting the flora, fauna, and native inhabitants of North America. Bodmer was employed by Prince Maximilian to make detailed, accurate drawings of what the two men saw on their expedition, to be used upon their return to Europe to generate the printed illustrations for Maximilian’s atlas, Travels in the Interior of North America, 1832 – 1834.

As they journeyed across the United States, Maximilian recorded numerous insightful observations about the young nation. His diary records the life, rituals and languages of native peoples of the Missouri River valley from St. Louis to Montana, tribes such as the Omaha, Sioux, Assiniboine, Blackfoot, Mandan, and Minatarre (commonly known as Hidatsa). Bodmer’s work vividly reflects the landscapes, wildlife, frontier settlements, Indian villages, and peoples described in Maximilian’s diaries. Together, Maximilian and Bodmer’s written and visual documentation constitute an invaluable record of the upper Missouri frontier.

Maximilian and Bodmer took their journals and images home to Europe, where Bodmer spent several years supervising the engraving and printing process. These original printing plates were later discovered by an anthropologist at Castle Wied, where they eventually found their way to the United States, and into the safekeeping of the Joslyn Art Museum.


Educational Resources

An educational outreach trunk sent along with the prints, as well as signage. “The Maximilian-Bodmer Expedition, 1832-1834” will provide teachers, students, and the community population at large with access to learning through personal interaction.  Exhibition tours can be experienced as a narrated audio tour accessed through any mobile device, as well as self-guided with the use of interpretive wall labels.

Teachers will have access to an online educational resource packet with an expedition overview, images, and detailed descriptive materials for selected prints, thematic curriculum connections that align with Nebraska educational standards, map, timeline, printmaking overview, and a classroom art-making lesson plan. Filled with touchable objects, books, DVDs, and print reproductions, an Outreach Trunk will help students become better prepared for the exhibition viewing (Braille, large print object labels, and Spanish language interpretive materials included).

Please contact the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum for more information on this exhibit and to schedule your group tour.