In a little over two weeks (on February 18), the Brooklyn Museum opens its new exhibition Tipi: Heritage of the Great Plains, part of which involves building four tipis inside the museums that visitors will be able to walk into: a canvas Crow child’s tipi, a Cheyenne beaded tipi from about 1904, a Sioux buffalo hide tipi, and a 28 foot Blackfoot welcome tipi (pictured). So, how do you build a tipi?
In a fascinating post on the Brooklyn Museum blog, head objects conservator Lisa Bruno explains how much work went into the first test assemblage back in October (pictured) of the Blackfoot tipi, which, like the Crow tipi, has four foundation poles, whereas the Cheyenne and Sioux tipis are supported by three main beams. Good thing they did a test run. Bruno writes: “After an intensive 2 days of work, the foundation poles broke and the tipi came crashing down onto the marble floor. No one was hurt.” Spoiler: they eventually succeed after consulting all kinds of tipi authorities, including the Eagle Scouts!