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In MOA’s Drawers: Amiri (Robe)

MOA’s Multiversity Galleries bring over 9,000 objects from around the world to public view. In most museums, collections of this magnitude are stored behind-the-scenes—so how exactly does MOA display so many objects within 14,500 square feet?

Stacked beneath an arrangement of towering glass display cases are a series of specially designed, state-of-the-art drawers. With a gentle tug on the long metal handles the drawers roll open, revealing cultural belongings from past and present to explore.

While the Multiversity Galleries’ drawers are designed to display thousands of objects, it is easy to feel overwhelmed when trying to see them all in one visit. If you’re not sure where to begin in exploring the myriad of objects on display, try finding this unique textile.

Amiri (Robe), made by Durma Sergeevna Khodzher

MOA collection: 2952/1. Photo by Kyla Bailey.

Look closely at the material—would you guess that it was made out of salmon skin? For the Indigenous Nanai people of Siberia’s Amur River region, salmon is used as both a primary food source and as a durable, water repellent fabric for traditional-style clothing. While traditional robes were completely made from fish skin, we can tell that this piece from the mid 20th century as it incorporates other fabrics. With embroidered decorations added in the 1920s or 1930s, it is likely that the robe became more and more intricate with details added over time. Regardless of the era, the wearer certainly won’t have to “fish” for any compliments when donning this amazing piece!

Find me: Case 047, Drawer 1