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Over 250,000 objects have been digitally imaged and are accessible online through the Collections Database.

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Today's Object from Collections Database

The Division of Anthropology is concerned with all aspects of human behavior, past, present, and with an eye to the future. Our work is biological, archaeological, socio-cultural and linguistic.

Established in 1873, only four years after the Museum's founding, the Division has acquired over 500,000 objects representing the peoples of the Americas, Africa, Asia, Europe and the Pacific Islands. As one of the oldest departments of anthropology in the United States, our collections and archives are important resources for the history and continuing work of our discipline. [History of the Collections]

Generous support for creating digital images of artifacts, archival documents, and photographs has been provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities, New York State Council on the Arts, and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. [Digital Imaging in the Division of Anthropology]


Anthropology Thesaurus provides a controlled vocabulary for use in searching across the collections. The goal of this thesaurus is to allow users to browse through a hierarchical structure to locate individual objects rather than perform a traditional search on individual keywords.

Collections Highlights

This section presents objects from the Textile Collection, as well as Mexico & Central America Virtual Hall, The Buddha Project, Tibetan Paintings (tangkas), Ethnographic Collections from the most significant Museum expeditions.


Search archives finding aids, browse transcripts of Frederick Starr's field notebooks from Congo Expedition (1905-1906), original Berthold Laufer's guide to the Chinese Hall and Otto Finsch archive (catalog, drawings, watercolor paintings) compiled during Pacific Expeditions (1879-1885).


Photographs from Jesup North Pacific Expedition (1897-1902) and Lang-Chapin Congo Expedition (1909-1915).


Search bibliography of anthropological studies published by the Division of Anthropology such as Anthropological Papers, Bulletin, Memoirs, James Arthur Lectures on the Evolution of Human Brain. Over 200 of them are available for downloading free of charge.


Curators in the Division of Anthropology conduct research around the world in the areas of Ethnology, Archaeology, and Biological Anthropology.

News & Events

The latest news and events from the Division of Anthropology: featured projects, important visits, significant publications.