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Collections Highlights / Anthropology


The Governor's Collection of Contemporary Native American Art

The Governor's Collection is a collaborative effort between the New York State Museum and Native American communities to create a collection of contemporary works representing the living culture and thriving art of Native Peoples of New York. In recent years, the Museum has worked with Native American artists to collect examples of beadwork, basketry, sculpture, silverwork, clothing, carving, and pottery. This growing collection reflects the broad range of current work from Native artists, from functional to unique and decorative, and from traditional to modern in style and technique.

The Lewis Henry Morgan Collection

The Lewis Henry Morgan Collection of mid-nineteenth century Iroquois materials was made by Morgan between 1849 and 1850 for the Historical and Antiquarian Collection of the New York State Cabinet of Natural History, which was to become the New York State Museum (NYSM). Morgan, now often described as "The Father of American Anthropology," collected or had made approximately 500 objects, representing all aspects of Iroquois life. In this, he was aided by members of the Seneca Iroquois William Parker family, particularly son Ely S. Parker, who is best known as aide-de-camp to General Ulysses S. Grant during the Civil War. Morgan's 1848, 1849, and 1850 reports, detailing the traditional production and use of these objects, were pathbreaking ethnographic documents. Tragically, a 1911 fire in the State Capitol destroyed much of the collection, making the remaining pieces particularly rare and significant. Learn more about this collection and other objects in it

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