Science & Culture | Anthropology

Explore the Collection

The Anthropology Collection

The Anthropology Division curates worldwide ethnological and archaeological collections.

The ethnological collection (material objects of a culture) includes more than 14,000 artifacts, with particular regional strength in Africa, Native North America, Oceania, and the upper Amazon, and notable holdings worldwide in textiles, basketry, and pottery.

The archaeological collection (prehistoric artifacts) includes 17,000 catalogued artifacts from the Plains, Midwest, and American Southwest, as well as 92.000 artifacts and ecofacts (plant and animal remains) from excavations in the Central and Northern Plains.

Special Collection

The Andersen and Buros Collections are examples of collections bequeathed to the museum where they can be cared for by professional curatorial and collections staff. These collections, often built over many years, hold significant research value as historical documentation of the past.

The African Collection

The African collection of over 2,800 objects beginning with field collected materials from the 1920s; and incorporates the full range of material culture such as clothing, ornaments, household goods and sculpture. The photographic collection begins with glass plate negatives from Rhodesia in 1903-1904 and includes thousands of Kodachrome slides from the 1950s and 1960s.

The Native American Collection

Plains material includes representative artifacts from about 1900 as well as contemporary objects. One of the highlights is an incised and painted burden strap dating to the mid-19th century. The collection of Southwestern pottery begins with pieces believed to have been shown at the Trans-Mississippian Exposition in 1898, and ends with recent works by Lonnie Vigil, Lucy Yearflower, Gregory Lonewolf, and others. There is also a good range of Native American basketry.

Woodlands Region
Southwest Region
Northwest Coast Region
California Region
Plains Tribes Region

The Pacific Collection

The Philippine collection numbers over 832 artifacts, including 4 lantakas collected by John J. Pershing during the Spanish-American War, as well as edged weapons, basketry, pottery and metalwork from Pershing, William Jennings Bryan, and other collectors. The Samoan collection is dominated by over 150 pieces collected by L.W. Osborn, once Consul General of Samoa. The rest of the Oceania collection emphasizes weaponry dating from the late 19th century including objects from the Maori, Gilbert Islands, Cook Islands, and others.

South American Collection

The upper Amazon collection concentrates on material beginning in the 1960s. It includes artifacts from the Shipibo, Conibo, Campa, Cocama, Bora and others. There is also Jivaro featherwork and a set of Mundurucu feather ornaments dating to the turn of the century. The field photographs of Donald W. Lathrap document his investigations of central Ucayali pottery production in the 1960s.


Archaeological Collection

The archaeological collection focuses on Nebraska archaeology, beginning with W.D. Strong's excavations in the 1930s. The collection is particularly strong in Paleoindian materials including the collections from the Scottsbluff, Lipscomb and Clary bison kills.