The Museum is pleased to offer the following exhibits highlighting a small fraction of its holdings. Please check back in the future as we plan on creating other exhibits. Enjoy!
The Dean C. Worcester Photographic Collection
From 1890 to 1913, Dean Conant Worcester took thousands of photographs of people and places throughout the Philippines. The majority was taken while Worcester served as the controversial Secretary of Interior in the US colonial government from 1901 to 1913, responsible for economic development and “non-Christian tribes and people.” Simultaneously disturbing and beautiful, these photographs portray the perspectives and emphases of a leading proponent of the colonial mission. This exhibition features a subset of the nearly 5000 glass negatives and lantern slides in the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology’s Worcester Collection.
For a biography of the man whose photographic activities had a profound influence on the way that Americans perceived the Philippines throughout the twentieth century, see:
Dean Worcester's Fantasy Islands: Photography, Film, and the Colonial Philippines, by Mark Rice
Koelz Collection of Himalayan Art
On November 2, 1932, zoologist and adventurer Walter Norman Koelz left Ann Arbor for a two-year collecting mission in northern India. Koelz had been appointed by the University of Michigan to collect biological specimens for the University of Michigan Museum of Zoology and material culture for the Museum of Anthropological Archaeology. From 1932 to 1934, he traveled throughout the Indian Himalayas, collecting birds and other fauna, botanical specimens, and a rare and important assemblage of Western Himalayan art. This exhibition features a portion of the objects that Koelz collected, including religious tangka paintings from Buddhist monasteries ("Tara," UMMA 17458, above), bronze and silver amulet boxes, elaborate shawls, and wooden seals and printing blocks.
For Koelz' diary entries during his expedition, along with a chapter contextualizing his acquisition of sacred Buddhist objects and an appendix presenting previously unpublished thangka paintings that he collected, see:
The Himalayan Journey of Walter N. Koelz: The University of Michigan Himalayan Expedition, 1932-1934, by Carla M. Sinopoli
In 1918 and 1927, University of Michigan Professor Harley Harris Bartlett (1886–1960) traveled to Sumatra, Indonesia, to conduct botanical research and collect specimens for the University of Michigan Herbarium and Smithsonian Institution. Some of his travels took him to the upland mountains of northern Sumatra and into contact with the Batak people. While visiting Batak villages, he collected various anthropological materials in addition to botanical materials, and gave the Museum of Anthropology 155 written Batak texts and other materials for its collections. An inscribed Batak text (UMMA 48396) is illustrated here.
Sago Spathe Painting Exhibit
The Museum has a collection of over 100 Sago Spathe paintings from New Guinea. Most of the paintings come from a ritual house built in the early 1980s. The initiation cycle was not completed due to dissension among the senior men who were responsible for keeping the initiation going. The paintings were recovered from the ruins of the structure in 1987 by Phillip Guddemi, a graduate student in cultural anthropology at the University of Michigan. Some paintings that would normally be present were not found. Examples of these were commissioned from local artists. Sago Spathe painting UMMA 1989-17-107 is illustrated here.