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South America Collections

The museum's collections of South American material were founded with the materials collected from the World Columbian Exposition of 1893.  Highlights from the World’s Fair come from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Paraguay.  One of these collections, the Montez Collection (Accesion 6), consists of approximately 1,200 objects that were purchased in the 19th century from this private Peruvian collector for the World’s Fair.  While the vast majority of this collection is comprised o

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The museum's collections of South American material were founded with the materials collected from the World Columbian Exposition of 1893.  Highlights from the World’s Fair come from Peru, Ecuador, Colombia, and Paraguay.  One of these collections, the Montez Collection (Accesion 6), consists of approximately 1,200 objects that were purchased in the 19th century from this private Peruvian collector for the World’s Fair.  While the vast majority of this collection is comprised of ceramic vessels from the Inca Period, this exceptional collection of ancient Peruvian objects also includes spectacular objects from the Colonial period.

In the 1920s and 1930s, anthropologist Alfred Kroeber excavated a number of important archaeological sites on the Peruvian coast.  The Field Museum possesses these systematically collected and well documented objects from three main sites. The collection includes ceramic pieces and textiles from at least BC 1000 to AD 1300, some of which are displayed in “Ancient Americas”.  The Nazca collection of ceramic objects, in particular, ranks as one of the finest in North America, and along with other archaeological collections from Kroeber, are extensively studied by scholars.

In the late 1940s, Donald Collier excavated the site of Cerro Narrio in Ecuador, an early agricultural site and one of the most important archaeological settlements in the Northern Andes. The Field Museum holds the type collection from this site as well as thousands of objects from Collier’s systematic excavations. The collection has been repeatedly studied over the years and serves as the basis for several critical theories on the early prehistory of Ecuador.

The Museum's collection of rare Andean textiles, dating to the 18th and 19th centuries, was purchased in the 19th century by Field Museum collectors. These ethnographic textiles originate from the high Andean areas of Peru and Bolivia and represent an indigenous weaving tradition that is now virtually extinct due to the influence of industrial dyes and the effects of tourism on the local society.

Other ethnographic collections from South America originate from the Peru, Brazil, and Paraguay.  The Peruvian collection includes a growing collection of Shipibo material culture, much of which has been collected in recent years.  The Brazilian collection, specifically its ethnographic material, also includes more than 200 items of ceremonial paraphernalia and musical instruments from Tukanoan and Arawakan speaking Indians of the Northwest Amazon region; more than 200 articles of dress, artwork, containers, and tools for daily living from native tribes and rural peoples of the Middle and Lower Amazon and Northeast Brazil, including the well-known Karajá and Tapirape.  The majority of the Paraguayan collection was received from Emil Hassler and was exhibited at the 1893 World’s Fair.

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Collections

Collections of clays from the valleys of Peru and Chile help us understand ceramic production and economy among the early states of the Andes.
Collections of Basalts, Andesites, and Rhyolites from the Lake Titicaca Basin allow us to identify the source quaries for artifacts and architecture at regional archaeological sites dating to the Middle Horizon.
The Museum is rich in collections from three of the ancient Middle and South American cultures whose conflicts with European societies were among the most dramatic and far-reaching. These collections are particularly strong in ceramics:
Material records of pre-contact cultures include polychrome pottery excavated from artificial earth mounds on Marajó Island, at the mouth of the Amazon. These well-preserved vessels hint at Brazilian lifeways over a 700-year span in the first millennium A.D.
Material records of pre-contact cultures include ceramics and textiles from settlements thriving between 1000 B.C. and A.D. 1300 on the Peruvian coast. These pieces came to light through the excavations of Field Museum Curators George Dorsey in the 1890's and Donald Collier...
The Museums's Latin American collections include fine textiles from highland Peru and Bolivia and from Guatemala.
The Department of Anthropology holds an exceptional collection of ancient Peruvian objects purchased in the 19th century from a private Peruvian collector. This collection consists of approximately 1,200 objects, of which the vast majority are ceramic vessels from the Inca...
For six short months in 1893, Jackson Park in Chicago was home to one of the largest and most spectacular expositions of the 19th Century. Near the close of the Fair, The Field Columbian Museum (now The Field Museum) was founded.