The Collection

Starting with Adolph Meinecke's contributions at the turn of the century and ending most recently with Dr. Nancy Oestreich Lurie's additions in the 1980s and several additions in the 1990s, MPM's Sami collection represents a large span in the fascinating history of Sami culture.

Numbering just about one hundred pieces, MPM's is the only sizeable collection in North America at this time, and perhaps the only large Sami collection outside of Europe at all. MPM's holdings are comprised of mostly utilitarian items such as personal adornment and household goods, though several pieces, including figures, candelabras and a flag, are decorative. The preponderance of utilitarian items speaks to the pragmatic lifestyles of traditional Sami and their continued connection to the land and to their roots. Because MPM has only added a handful of items since the 1980s, the holdings do not yet represent a comprehensive reflection of the rebirth of Sami culture since the 1970s. Interesting additions to the collection would therefore include examples of Sami two-dimensional art, as well as other items that reflect contemporary Sami lifestyles and connections to mainstream European culture. The collection does include a Sami flag, a decorative candelabra, two children's dolls in Sami clothing, and a bead necklace.



379
Fur-lined leather pouch and needle case

380
Heddle and loom

382
Cradle
 

383
Woman's wool and felt hat

426
Hay strings

2242
Freight sleigh, Norway
 

2242a
Wool belt from summer suit, Norway

2242b
Wool pants, Norway

2242c
Man's wool and felt hat, Norway
 

2242d
Leather summer boots, Norway

2242e-g
Leather pouch for pipe, Norway

2242j-k
Knife with sheath, Norway
 

2243c
Fur mittens, Norway

2243d
Norwegian style wool and felt hat, Karasjok

2243g
Leather and wool boot bands, Norway
 

2243h
Knife with sheath, Norway

2243i-j
Leather straps, Norway

11888
Ivory on leather threading, Norway
 

11893
Knife with sheath, Norway

29728
Bone spoon

33065
Bone spoon, Norway
 

33066
Bone spoon, Norway

35168
Knife with sheath

35169
Bone implement
 

55809a-b
Cotton handkerchief, Sweden

55810a-c
Leather belt with two knives, Sweden

55811
Man's wool and felt tunic, Sweden
 

55815
Norwegian style wool and felt hat, Kautokeino

55816
Leather backpack for carrying food and personal items, Sweden

55817
Leather coffee sack, Sweden
 

55818
Wooden bowl, Sweden

55819
Leather summer boots, Sweden

55822
Knife with sheath
 

55823
Swedish-style wool and felt hat

55824
Wooden bowl, Sweden

55825
Wooden bowl, Finland
 

55826
Bone spoon, Sweden

55827
Fur-lined leather match pouch (tourist item)

55828
Wooden bowl. Sweden
 

55829a-b
Knife with sheath, Sweden

55830a-b
Woman's wool boot bands, Sweden

55831
Wooden bowl, Sweden
 

55832
Cow horn salt horn, Sweden

55833
Wooden reindeer yoke, Sweden

55834
Swedish-style modern boy's wool and felt cap
 

56502a-b
Wooden figures of Sami and reindeer, Sweden

55808
Rope

55814
Leather, fur and wool winter pants, Sweden
 

58429a-b
Fur boots

59265
Cradle, Norway

60362
Bone spoon with etching
 

60797
Leather belt

60878
Leather purse

60881
Wool and felt tunic
 

60896
Bone implement

60979a-b
Leather belt and fur pouch

60880
Norwegian style wool and felt hat from Kautokeino
 

61593
Reindeer harness, wood yoke, wool and leather bridle, Norway

61645a-b
Woman's wool and felt tunic, Sweden

61846a-c
Woman's wool and felt tunic, hat and belt. Sweden
 

61847a-b
Man's wool and felt tunic, Sweden

61848
Boy's wool and felt hat, Sweden

61849
Woman's wool and felt hat with broach, Sweden
 

62779
Bone reindeer lasso slide. Finnmark, Norway

63089
Antler candelabra, Finland

63090
Bone spoon, Finland (tourist item)
 

63091a-b
Knife with sheath, Finland

63092
Wool blanket, Finland

63093
Necklace of bone and leather, Finland
 

63094
Metal woman's ring, Finland

63569
Leather lasso, Finland

63570
Leather lasso, Finland
 

63571
Bone snow cutter

63922
Knife with sheath, Karasjok, Norway

65440
Shuttle
 

66742
Chalice-shaped basketry bowl, Finland

66743
Leather cell phone holder, Finland

66744
Senna grass braid, stuffed into boots as "socks", Finland
 

66745
Sami flag, Finland

67079
Antler candelabra, Finland

67080
Norwegian male Sami doll
 

67081
Norwegian female Sami doll

67082
Wool and felt hat

67083a-b
Fur-lined children's boots
 

67084
Wool and felt pouch

67085
Beaded necklace

67086
Wool and felt boot bands

Major Donors

Though MPM's Sami collection includes items from over ten sources, the three major donors include Adolph Meinecke, Robert Pehrson, and Nancy Lurie.

Adolph Meinecke provided MPM's earliest acquisitions of Sami material in the early 1900s. Born in Germany, Meinecke immigrated to Milwaukee in 1855 as a wealthy toy manufacturer and importer. He opened the Meinecke Toy Company at 125 E. Wells Street. Meinecke traveled frequently and, upon becoming a board trustee for the Milwaukee Public Museum in 1885, he was authorized to bring back particular objects from Norway (A Special Style 1983: 16). The Sami items Meinecke provided include a large wooden freight sled, a collection of reindeer skins, antlers and several costume pieces.

Robert Pehrson graduated from the University of Chicago in 1955 with a dissertation entitled "Bilateral Network of Social Relations in Konkawa Lapp District." He continued fieldwork among the Sami in Norway and developed a prolific publishing record. He collected for MPM through the 1950s, acquiring a large collection of Sami utilitarian and decorative items including several ski poles (not pictured) and ornate tunics.

Nancy Oestreich Lurie is a social anthropologist and curator emerita at MPM. She served as president of the American Anthropological Association (1983-85) and as the head of the MPM anthropology department from 1972-1992. She developed an interest in subarctic cultures early, but the majority of her career focused on the Ho-Chunk/Winnebago in Wisconsin and Nebraska (Wisconsin Archaeology 74(1-4) 1993: 3-9). In a six-week break during her 1965-66 Fulbright-Hays lectureship at the University of Aarhus, Denmark, Lurie visited Sami communities in Norway on a travel grant. She had been interested in Sami culture for a while and, had the Second World War not restricted international fieldwork, she might have started her professional anthropological career there. Following her year in Denmark and upon assuming her curatorship at MPM, Lurie acquired several pieces for the Sami collection in a later trip in the 1980s, most notably a traditional cradle.