Cornell University Library Digital Collections

Painted tapa cloth

About the collection

The Anthropology Collections at Cornell University trace their origins to the founding of the university as "an institution where any person could find instruction in any study." This required a museum and collections to support student and faculty scholarship, and objects that were part of the original University Museum remain in the anthropology collections today, augmented by additions to enhance teaching and research possibilities. Today the full collections consist of over 20,000 objects, covering the full course of human history from the Lower Paleolithic to the present. These selections from the anthropology collections include approximately 1000 items, chosen to provide access to some of our more interesting materials and to materials that are not commonly available otherwise. These include archaeological materials (Danish Neolithic and European Bronze Age tools; prehistoric Amazonian ceramics; Precolumbian textiles from Peru; a collection excavated from a slave cabin in Georgia) and ethnographic collections (early 20th-century Filipino pieces, collected by missionaries and soldiers; Yir Yoront (Australian aboriginal) items and Hmong (Thailand) clothing and textiles, collected by Lauriston Sharp; Ndembu (Zambia) masks and costumes, collected by Victor and Edith Turner).