The Hearst Museum has a strong Media Collection consisting of still photography, sound recordings, and film. This collection, when combined with the Museum Paintings, Prints and Drawing Collection, make the Hearst Museum an indispensable resource.

Still Photographs

The Museum’s collection of still photographs consists of both original prints and negatives. The original prints include those of Edward Curtis, Paul Louis Hoefler, Timothy O’Sullivan, John Hillers, Carleton Watkins, and Felice Beato, as well as some unique copies of these artists’ works. The Museum’s negatives comprise the largest and most comprehensive collection of ethnographic photographs of California Indians (ca. 3,500). A sample of the collection can be reviewed at the Museum’s Calisphere Archive.

Sound Recordings

The Museum has the largest sound collection in an American anthropology museum. It holds the largest and most comprehensive sound collection for California Indian song and language, and the third largest ethnographic wax-cylinder collection in America produced, between 1901 and 1938. Visit Berkeley’s California Language Archive for a catalog of the Museum’s California Indian sound collection. Richard Keeling’s 1991 A Guide to Early Field Recordings at the Robert H. Lowie Museum of Anthropologyis another useful guide to some of the Museum’s sound collection.

The Museum also has important holdings from Africa and Asia. Generally well-documented and with excellent sound quality, the African tapes were recorded between 1959 and 1962 from Niger, Cameroons, and Nigeria (Yoruba, Hausa, Tiv, Ijaw, Ibibio, Igbo, Tuareg, Birom, Efik, Kagoro, and others). There are smaller sound collections from Iraq, Iran, India, New Guinea, Australia, and the Philippines.


The Museum holds what is likely the largest collection of research footage on North American Indians in the United States. Samuel A. Barrett, Berkeley’s first anthropology doctorate (1908) collected most of this material during his National Science Foundation funded American Indian Film Project between 1960 and 1965, yielding 362,569 feet of film from many tribes in the American West. The collection also includes important early films from Bali and Siberia dating to the 1920s. A small collection of the Museum’s films can be viewed at the California Light and Sound Archive here.