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Burke Museum: Here's The Mask That Likely Inspired The Seattle Seahawks' Logo

Courtesy of the Burke Museum

Just where did the Seattle Seahawks’ logo come from?

Amid the fever pitch of last year’s Super Bowl run, one of the art history classes at the University of Washington got curious.

A little digging led to a book on Northwest coast art that contained a black-and-white picture of a mask. This mask likely served as the inspiration for the logo’s original designers in the 1970s, says Katie Bunn-Marcuse, assistant director of the Bill Holm Center for Northwest Coast Art at UW’s Burke Museum.

Credit Courtesy of the Hudson Museum
Courtesy of the Hudson Museum

“The mask originated in one of the Kwakwaka’wakw villages on Vancouver Island … probably sometime in the late 19th century,” said Bunn-Marcuse.

It went to a dealer who sold it to a surrealist artist in New York. He sold it to another collector and it landed in Maine, specifically at the Hudson Museum at the University of Maine.

The mask may soon be headed to Seattle. The Hudson Museum has agreed to loan it to the Burke, which is now raising funds to cover the cost of transport. 

Credit Courtesy of the Hudson Museum
Courtesy of the Hudson Museum

Bunn-Marcuse says that's cause for celebration for everyone, not just fans of the Seahawks or Native art.   

“It’s really a chance for us all to celebrate together,” she said.

The mask will be part of an exhibit showcasing Northwest Coast artists who made new works paired with the older works that inspired them, called “Here and Now: Native Artists Inspired.” The exhibit will open at the Burke Museum on Nov. 22.

Ed Ronco is a former KNKX producer and reporter and hosted All Things Considered for seven years.

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