Collections: North America

The Phoebe A. Hearst Museum of Anthropology has great strengths in other regions of Native America beyond California. These holdings are most extensive from the Pacific coast, especially Alaska, a region second only to Native California in the Museum’s North American collections.

The collection of the Alaska Commercial Company is one of the Museum’s early treasures. In 1897, the University of California was given 2,400 artifacts collected from all three culture areas represented in the state: the Eskimo of the Arctic, the Athapaskan of the Subarctic, and the Tlingit and Haida of the Northwest Coast. The merchants were quite eclectic in their approach, acquiring trade novelties as well as more traditional items.

The Museum has important holdings from the Southwest, with Phoebe Hearst’s own donations, especially Pueblo and Navajo textiles, the George Pepper Pueblo pottery collection (1903), Kroeber’s well-documented collection from Zuni (1918), and representative 1930s collections from geology professor Norman E. A. Hinds. From the Plains, there are some important early collections such as the Osage and Omaha objects collected by Native anthropologist Francis LaFlesche, but most from this region was gathered during Samuel Barrett’s filming of the Blackfoot and Sioux in the 1960s.

The Hearst Museum also has a significant collection from historic, non-Native American peoples.  The collection from the Decorative Art/Design department includes most media, but is especially strong in textiles.  These include 19th-century quilts and coverlets and part of the studio collection of textile designer Dorothy Liebes (ca. 1950–60s).  Highlights from the relatively small but important collection of American folk art include carving and textiles from African-Americans and New Mexican Hispanics.  There is also historical archaeology from late-19th century San Francisco and American art (see "Paintings, Prints, and Drawings").


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