Early acquisitions of the local archaeological collections of Herbert Bigford in 1959 and Walter Bennett in 1965 established the museum as an important repository of Haudenosaunee materials. Since that time, the Longyear Museum of Anthropology collections have grown to include archaeological and ethnological cultural heritage materials from elsewhere in North America, Central and South America, Africa, Oceania, Asia, and Europe.
The Americas collections include more than 10,000 indigenous artifacts and art objects, from prehistoric stone tools to Peruvian pottery, from Plains Indian beadwork to Mohawk baskets. Of particular note is a large and distinguished collection of stone figures, masks, amulets and other objects from West Mexico. In recent years, the Longyear Museum has acquired substantial gifts of contemporary Native American art, including over five hundred original works on paper by twenty-one Canadian Indian and Metis artists. In addition, a small but important group of contemporary Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) objects has been acquired by gift and purchase.
The African materials of the Longyear Museum constitute the largest and most comprehensive repository of African art in Central New York. This is owing to a number of gifts, but especially a 2001 anonymous gift of African pottery and other objects, and a 2002 gift of nearly 2,700 African sculptures from the estate of Herman Copen. More recent acquisitions have addressed gaps in the collections. The African holdings include works from every region of Africa and in many mediums such as stone, wood, brass, iron, clay and ivory as well as textiles, beadwork, and contemporary paintings.
The Longyear Museum has a number of works from indigenous cultures of the Pacific islands, as well as Asian and Indonesian objects. Gems of this collection include a bronze drum from the ancient Dongson culture and New Guinea ancestral boards. Recent acquisitions include gifts of 15th century ceramics from Thailand, Central Asian textiles, and Oceanic tapa cloths.
We welcome donations to the Longyear Museum of Anthropology. All proposed donations undergo a rigorous review process that may take up to six months or more, depending on the material under consideration. For details and criteria, see the acquisition guidelines.