Chamacoco Collection

belt ornament
The Museum's Chamacoco Collection consists of 70 objects, such as this belt ornament made of tropical bird feathers, and represent items both for everyday use and for ceremonies. Collected in 1925 by the Museum of the American Indian in New York, they came to the Milwaukee Public Museum that same year. The Chamacoco live in the Gran Chaco region of northwest Paraguay. The Chamacoco today alternate between their traditional hunting and gathering and more recent light agriculture, craftsmanship, or labor.

Swiss Lake Collection

organic materials
The Swiss Lake sites were first excavated in the mid 1840s and popularized by Swiss archaeologist Ferdinand Keller. Their interpretation as villages located over the lakes brought them much acclaim and made the collections from the sites' excavations much sought after by museums world-wide. Today, it is known that some, but not the majority, of these sites were built over water. They date from the Neolithic through the Bronze Age (4,000 BC-700 BC).

Trinidad Collection

trinidad collection
Trinidad, one of the islands forming the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago in the southern Caribbean, has been ruled by several previous European powers, the last being Great Britain. On this small island, people from the various cultures of Asia, Europe, Africa, and native groups live and interact. This rare collection is from the East Indian peoples on the island, and was collected by Milwaukee Public Museum Curator of Anthropology, Dr. Arthur Niehoff, in 1957. The East Indians were brought to the island by the British as indentured servants.

George West Pipe Collection

pipe
George West, a Milwaukee lawyer with a strong interest in archaeology, helped found the Wisconsin Archaeological Society in 1903. West also served on the Board of Trustees of the Milwaukee Public Museum for 32 years, for most of which he was president. Particularly interested in Native American pipes and smoking customs, West began collecting pipes around 1873 and continued to do so for several decades. The West pipe collection consists of 516 pipes; the majority are Native American. They represent all typical pipe styles found in the United States, three-fourths of them from Wisconsin.

The Fifield Collection

vase
This collection of 21 items contains some of the most exquisite pieces in the Museum's Mesoamerican archaeological collection. Thomas Fifield, lawyer and Museum board member and his wife Marilyn, amassed the collection through art galleries, primarily in New York. Promised as a gift to the Museum many years ago, they were formally donated in 2006, just months before Tom passed on.

Gynandromorphs Collection

orange butterflies
Over several decades, James R. "Jim" Neidhoefer, a local businessman with a passion for butterflies and moths, donated his collection of more than 100,000 specimens plus several hundred volumes of rare books and monographs on Lepidoptera.

Passenger Pigeon

pigeon

Once the most common bird in North America, the passenger pigeon (Ectopistes migratorius) or wild pigeon lived in enormous migratory flocks that some estimate were between three  to five billion upon European arrival.

Lake Amatitlán Collection

lake amatitlan collection

Milwaukee Public Museum director Dr. Stephan F. de Borhegyi spent many years excavating in and around Lake Amatitlán in Guatemala. This area was occupied over a great length of time by the Maya, from 500 BC to the Spanish Conquest (about AD 1500). Many items were brought up from the lake by divers, including several ceramic censers, containers used to burn copal incense, which played an important role in Maya rituals. The Milwaukee Public Museum is one of the primary repositories of artifacts from sites from this area.

Pre-Columbian Gold

gold jaguar

The Milwaukee Public Museum's Pre-Columbian Gold collection comes from Peru, Panama, Costa Rica, Colombia, and Mexico. Until the mid-1900s such items were worth more as scrap than as artifacts and were melted down, losing a great amount of information. For this reason, museum collections are vital in providing information on Pre-Columbian gold working.

Huron Smith Ethnobotanical collection

Ethnobotanical collection

This specimen is part of the Huron Smith Ethnobotanical collections. It was gathered during the 1920s when Smith was doing fieldwork among the Indian tribes of Wisconsin. He recorded the native name and use for the 1,600 plants he collected. This important collection was recently conserved using archival materials and rehoused in new cabinets, thanks to an IMLS grant. Smith's specimens, field notes and publications can now be viewed on the Museum's website here.