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Collection Interview Series


The first major collections of the Smithsonian Institution were anthropological, developed by international explorations and field studies led by exceptional, passionate, and often eccentric, individual scientists and collectors. These collections laid the foundation for the Smithsonian Institution and subsequently the collections of the National Museum of Natural History, which
opened to the public in 1910.

Watch the videos of six Smithsonian anthropologists as they share their knowledge about these significant and historical collections from around the world. The collections come from the United States Exploring Expedition (1838 -1842); the North American Mound Explorations (1881-1892); Edward Nelson’s Arctic Expedition (1877-1881); the 19th century field research of ethnologist James Mooney who lived with the Cherokee and wrote about the Ghost Dance religion; anthropologist
Frank Cushing’s work with the Zuni of New Mexico; and Diplomatic Gifts from kings, queens, and government representatives from around the world, beginning in 1846.



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For more information on the objects and archival images shown in the videos, search the
Collections Search Center using the inventory or catalog number.

Videographers: Raphael Talisman and Karma Foley
Produced by Ann Kaupp, Anthropology Outreach Office

We are grateful to a Smithsonian’s Women’s Committee grant that made this series possible.

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