Siberian Coat

The Milwaukee Public Museum purchased this coat from the Commercial Museum in Philadelphia, PA in 1919. Thought to be collected in the 1890s, this child's coat is made from fish-skin and decorated with a red and black border. Fish-skin coats are warm and waterproof, and are typically used as a kind of raincoat, usually large enough to be worn over a skin or bird parka for added protection from the wind and rain. Garments made from fish-skins are more often used by groups that live near rivers or the sea. Intact fish-skin clothing from such an early date is quite rare.

Dogrib (Tłįchǫ) Collection

Dr. Nancy Oestreich Lurie, then with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, collected these items in 1967 from the Tłįchǫ (tɬhĩtʃhõ), formerly called Dogrib for the Milwaukee Public Museum during a research trip with Dr. June Helm of the University of Iowa. The Tłįchǫ live in the Northwest Territories, Canada between Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake. Dr. Lurie and Dr. Helm were the first anthropologists to conduct extensive ethnological research with the Tłįchǫ. The Museum’s collection reflects a variety of aspects of Tłįchǫ domestic life.

Kiowa Cradleboard and Cover

This cradleboard and cover were collected in Oklahoma City by George Gorton of Racine, WI who donated it to the Milwaukee Public Museum in 1962. It was made by a master beadworker named Doyetone around 1904 for her grandson William "Bill" Bear.

Mambila Collection

The Mambila (Mambilla) are an agricultural group that inhabits northern Nigeria and western Cameroon. Gilbert Schneider of Ohio University collected in the Mambila grasslands of northern Nigeria from 1947 to 1951. Schneider tried to obtain materials relating to all aspects of Mambila life ranging from ancestral objects, such as this terra cotta shrine figure, to clothing. He kept detailed records on how the items were used by the Mambila, key information for museum collections.

Waiwai Collection

The Waiwai are a native Amerindian group living in southern Guyana (formerly British Guiana) and northern Brazil. There are approximately 200 Waiwai living in Guyana and 2000 in Brazil. Of the native groups in Guyana, the Waiwai have remained the most traditional, but have still been influenced by missionaries to the region. The 33 items in this collection mainly represent everyday items such as basketry, bow/arrows, and body ornamentation. The collection was acquired in 1965 on an expedition led by Lon W. Mericle, a Museum Research Associate in Anthropology.

Hopi Collection

This collection came to the Museum through a 1911 summer expedition to the Hopi reservation in Arizona led by MPM Curator of Anthropology, Samuel A. Barrett. The collection consists of about 3300 items. The collection documents a wide variety of items from baskets and clothing to spiritual items, as well as pigments and tools used in their production.

Thunderbird Suit

This rare thunderbird suit was acquired by Milwaukee Public Museum Curator of Anthropology, Samuel A. Barrett during a 1914 - 1915 expedition to the Kwakwaka'wakw (Kwakiutl) territory on northern Vancouver Island and the adjacent mainland of British Columbia, Canada. The mask and leggings are mostly wood, while the headdress and suit are primarily eagle feathers. The thunderbird is an important figure in the Kwakwaka'wakw culture and is considered an ancestor in some tribes. The suit is displayed on the 2nd Floor in the Northwest Coast exhibit.

Old Copper Complex Collection

The Old Copper Complex (Culture) Collection contains native copper items made in the Great Lakes region from 3000 - 1000 B.C. The source for the copper was a Wisconsin quarry on Lake Superior; the raw copper and finished items were traded throughout the Midwest. The earliest copper items were utilitarian in nature, such as fish hooks and projectile points. Around 1500 BC more items of personal adornment were appearing, a change thought by archaeologists to signify increased social stratification.

R.N. Hawley Collection

R. N. Hawley, a native Milwaukeean, was a surgeon on the U.S. Revenue Cutter Bear in the late 1800s through the early 1900s. While on several voyages to northern Alaska and Siberia, Hawley collected material from various Inuit (Eskimo) groups. The collection, acquired by the Museum in 1900, consists of 255 objects that include fishing equipment, models of kayaks, carved walrus tusks, and housewares made from bone and wood. The early date of Hawley's collection illustrates the more traditional forms of these types of native items, prior to the groups modifying items for tourism.

Ancient Oil Lamp Collection

Oil lamps were used throughout the Roman Empire and consequently are common artifacts from the ancient Mediterranean. The Milwaukee Public Museum's collection consists of over 200 lamps with examples from various time periods and regions, making it a very good study collection. The lamps were collected from a variety of sources over a span of about 100 years. Some of the lamps from this collection can be seen in the North African area on the 3rd floor.