"Curtis Reframed: The Arizona Portfolios" is a celebration of the work of Edward Curtis - ethnologist and photographer of the American West and Native American peoples - and the time he was in Arizona more than 80 years ago.

Prior to embarking on a journey west, Curtis came up with the idea that he should carry out a project, where he could travel to the tribes west of the Mississippi, said Aleta Ringlero, guest curator for the exhibition now on display at the Arizona State Museum.

"(He wanted to) photograph, what he felt, were the last vestiges of Native American peoples, who were soon going to be assimilated into the dominant Western culture," she said.

Curtis wanted to preserve what he saw, which was a way of life that he thought was rapidly being eliminated.

There are 20 volumes and 20 portfolios of his work. But the museum only has the four that pertain to Curtis' visit to Arizona, which was broken up into various trips from 1900 to '28.

"This is an exhibition about people," Ringlero said. "I...want visitors, who come to this exhibition to engage with the faces of these individual people. These are (our) neighbors. For some of us, these are our relatives, our ancestors, but more than anything, this is a human story."