Arkansas Ceramics Collection

There are 256 complete ceramic vessels from Arkansas in the Milwaukee Public Museum's collections, most dating to the Middle (AD 1200-1400) and Upper (AD 1400-European contact) Mississippian periods. A large portion of the collection came from three donors, C.W. Riggs, G.E. Pilquist, and T.M.N. Lewis. The first two were artifact collectors and dealers; Riggs's material has no provenience other than "Arkansas," but Pilquist's items were collected from the Carden Bottoms area in west-central Arkansas.

Aztalan Site Collection

Aztalan, located on the Crawfish River in south-central Wisconsin near present-day Lake Mills, is approximately 50 miles west of Milwaukee. Occupied from about AD 1100-1250, Aztalan is the northernmost known outpost of the Mississippian culture. The site consists of large earthen temple mounds, houses, and an enormous stockade that enclosed 20 acres of the site.

Padi-Heru mummy

The Museum's two Egyptian mummies, Djed-Hor and Padi-Heru, were acquired in 1887 and have been on display fairly regularly since that time. Both mummies came from Akhmim, Egypt and they were CT-scanned in 1986 and again in 2006. Padi-Heru is Ptolemaic (possibly 200-100 BC) and is probably under 30 years of age. He was a priest of the Min temple in Akhmim. (Min was the Egyptian ithyphallic god of fertility.)

Lizard

Darting through the forest on an island in the Caribbean, a previously unidentified species of lizard forages for ants and termites in rotten wood and leaves. Thanks to the efforts of two scientists, this tiny, colorfully spotted lizard finally has a name. But its future may not be as bright as its scales.

Riverside, Michigan Site Collection

The Riverside site is located in Menomonee, Michigan, just over the Wisconsin border in Upper Michigan. It is a cemetery and village site composed of about 52 burial pits with village material in among the pits. Riverside was first excavated in 1956 and 1957 by Albert Spaulding and again in 1961, '62, and '63 by a joint excavation by the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) and Oshkosh Public Museum. The majority of the finds from the site are now housed at the MPM. Over 2600 items were recovered from the 1960s excavations.

DuBay Site Collection

The DuBay site was excavated in November 1941 by Dr. Philleo Nash prior to him becoming the Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin. Located about 12 miles north of Stevens Point, the site contained items from the John B. DuBay homestead. DuBay was a prominent frontiersman and fur trader in Wisconsin and Michigan in the mid to late 1800s. The excavation was one of the first archaeological studies of a mid-19th century historic site in the Midwest and the artifacts represent the only comprehensive historical archaeological collection at the MPM.

Sami Collection

The Sami, sometimes called Lapps, are an indigenous European group who currently inhabit the northernmost regions of Finland, Sweden, Norway, and a small part of Russia. Our Sami collection of approximately 100 pieces is the largest in North America and possibly outside of Europe. The majority of the objects are utilitarian in nature, such as clothing and household objects, but there are some decorative pieces as well. The items were donated to the museum between the late 1800s and the 1990s.

Kwakiutl Masks

In the winter of 1914-1915, Dr. S.A. Barrett, the curator of Anthropology, traveled to Ft. Rupert, British Columbia to obtain a comprehensive collection of Kwakiutl (Kwakwaka'wakw) material culture. Like many scholars at the time, Barrett believed that the native cultures of North America were disappearing and that it was crucial to save them before they vanished entirely. Performance masks, like this wolf mask, form perhaps the most significant elements of Barrett's highly regarded collection. You can see several of these masks on display in the Northwest Coast area on the 2nd floor.

Tlingit Pole

In 1904, this mortuary totem pole was exhibited at the Louisiana Purchase Exposition. It was apparently too fragile to journey back to Alaska, and therefore entered into the collection of the Milwaukee Public Museum. "Totem Poles" are appropriately called crest poles because they display family-owned symbols of a particular kinship group. Crests can be compared with the "Coats of Arms" of European noble families.

House Model

This replica of the Haida Chief Skidegate's house, as well as twenty-four other house models, was first exhibited at the 1893 Chicago World's Fair. The models serve as a snapshot of the 19th century village of Skidegate on the Queen Charlotte Islands of British Columbia. As the original houses were far too large to transport, anthropologists commissioned Haida craftsmen to construct smaller and thus more mobile versions that would allow for the exhibition and study of the Haida aesthetic around the world.