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A collection of upward of 600 works of American Indian art has made its debut, on public display for the first time in a new wing of the Fenimore House Museum.

The recently opened $8 million wing was specially built to house the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art, which the Thaws have promised to the museum.Objects in the collection date from pre-contact times to the late 20th century and come from a wide range of North American cultures. Highlights range from an Alaskan walrus-ivory bear carving made in A.D. 100-600 to an elaborate pipe tomahawk dating from around 1770, from Pennsylvania; a 19th-century Plains warrior's buffalo rawhide shield, and a fine 1988 medicine bag made by Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty, a renowned Assiniboine-Lakota beadworker.

A catalog, "Masterpieces of American Indian Art from the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection" (Abrams, softcover $19.95, available from the museum), coincides with the opening of the new wing of the museum, which is run by the New York State Historical Association.