As early as 1885 the University of Missouri began accepting gifts of ethnographic materials. In 1902 these materials were organized into the Museum of Ethnology, under the auspices of the Department of Sociology. From 1932 to 1938 the holdings were known as the Anthropology Collection; the name Museum of Anthropology was formally adopted in 1939.
The scope of the Museum’s collections include anthropological, archaeological and ethnographic objects which may broaden the understanding of human behavior, past and present. The extant collection includes objects from subject areas such as archery, Missouri prehistory and cultural life in the 19th and 20th century, and Native American material cultures. The museum also holds small collections of ethnographic material from South America, Africa, Asia, and Oceania. Associated with these subject areas are an anthropological and archery library as well as Missouri archaeological archives generated through the American Archaeology Division (AAD).
Since its founding in 1939, the Museum of Anthropology has served the research and teaching needs of the University of Missouri, provided exhibitions and programs for the general public, and served as an archaeological curation facility for the state of Missouri.
In addition to our North American collections, the museum has ethnographic materials and artifacts from all over the world. One of the largest collections is from Africa with items representing the work of the Masai, Turkana, Falasha, Hausa, Kikuyu, Niam Niam, Somali, and Berber peoples. These include garments, ornaments, musical instruments, basketry, vessels, tools, hunting equipment, weaponry, head rests, and masks. Special collections from Africa include the Sutton Collection - collected in the early 20th century from Kenya, Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, and Nigeria - and the Ives Collection, with pieces dating from the turn of the 20th century. The Ives Collection contains several magnificent ebonies as well as a variety of other cultural pieces from across the African continent.
Also among our global collections are items from across Asia, South America, Oceania, the Middle East, and Europe. The Bussabarger Collection, which focuses on India, includes several time periods of works that reflect the deities, epics, and home life of the Indian people.
The museum's global collections do not have a permanent display space but are occasionally on special exhibit in our rotating exhibit room.
Grayson Archery Collection
The Grayson Archery Collection and Library is the private collection of Dr. Charles E. "Bert" Grasyon. Dr. Grayson began donating his collection to the University of Missouri Museum of Anthropology in the early 1990s. With over 5,500 pieces covering six continents, the collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world.
Eichenberger Cast Collection
J. Allen Eichenberger (1905-1988) was a banker from Saverton, Missouri, and a long-time member of the Missouri Archaeological Society. Eichenberger's greatest achievements in archaeology were in the field of artifact casting, producing an estimated 700 copies of many of the world's renowned archaeological finds. His process in duplicating colors was unmatched in the field. Eichenberger performed his casting duties while a research associate for the American Archaeology Division at the University of Missouri, during which time he copied most of the known Paleoindian material from the western United States, examples of most Archaic-period types from the Midwest, numerous catlinite pipes and tablets, several pieces of engraved shell, and a number of specimens from Europe, Africa, and South America. In 1983 the Smithsonian Institution recognized Eichenberger for his achievements, presenting him with a certificate of recognition and receiving in return master copies of 650 of his pieces. Molds and copies of each artifact are housed at the Museum Support Center. Eichenberger casts are not on public display, but are available for research and study.
All of our collections are searchable via our online database. Databases, with information on how to search them, can be found on our Online Database page.
Museum of Anthropology eExhibits
The museum's eExhibits reach visitors beyond its physical boundaries and provide greater access to collections and related information for researchers, students, and other interested individuals. eExhibits present smaller virtual exhibits of materials from the Museum of Anthropology's extensive holdings, much of which never makes it onto display. Many of these virtual exhibits are collaborations of museum staff and museum interns, extending both the teaching and research missions of the museum.