The Bacharach/von Preissig Collection

California music teacher Sue Bacharach (19021999) was a woman whose love of travel was exceeded only by her discerning eye for collectibles.

During summer excursions to the American Southwest from the late 1920s through the 1950s, Sue began assembling the 254 pieces that now comprise the Bacharach/von Preissig Collection. "I must have inherited a collecting gene from my mother," said Bacharach. "I had no background in Indian art and purchased only what I could afford to take home to show friends what was being made at the various Pueblos and reservations."

Warren von Preissig, Sue's nephew, grew up with the collection. One memorable childhood gift was a kachina doll from his aunt. "She gave my brother and me each a child's kachina—a flat kachina," Warren recalled. "As a teenager I took watercolors and repainted the two pieces."

Sue gave her collection to Warren in 1979; sometime later he acquired the collection of LaVaun Mowers, one of Sue's traveling companions in the 1940s and 1950s. Later, he added pieces of his own.

In 1991 "Aunt Sue" (as she introduced herself to museum staff) and Warren gifted their collection to the museum. "Our desire was to find a place where the collection would remain a collection and be appreciated in its entirety." Today, the Bacharach/von Preissig Collection is an invaluable portrait of one woman's collecting experiences during the emergence of the Southwest as a tourist destination.