Skip to Content

Collection Highlights

Back to Article Listing


DU Museum of Anthropology

Article  •

The DU Museum of Anthropology houses a range of collections and artifacts curated by anthropological scholars and archaeologists. From sculpture originating in Peru to ancient textiles and more, DUMA's collections honor cultural heritage while promoting new research and scholarship. 

Researchers, students, and members of the public can request access to these collections from the DUMA management for online or in-person viewing.

Browse the Collections

  • Arthur L. Campa Peruvian Objects

    Quite the adventurer, Denver local Dr. Arthur L. Campa wanted to share his experiences with others. Campa graduated from the University of Denver in 1936, and after serving in the military, he began working for the U.S. State Department in Mexico and Peru. In 1956, Campa was working at the United States embassy in Lima, Peru as a Cultural Affairs Officer.

    While in Lima, Campa began a correspondence with the University of Denver, sending letters to Chancellor Alter as well as a variety of objects to the Museum of Anthropology. It was hard for Campa to getting ahold of his favorite supplies, and sometimes bargained with the university. At one point he agreed to send more objects in exchange for new rolls of film from the states. As Cultural Affairs Officer, Campa recognized the integrity to preserving Peruvian cultural heritage, and wanted to send useful objects and would not resort to smuggling.

    He writes, "As you probably know, the government doesn't allow anything to get out. While I was up north last week they caught some grave robbers who had taken out several kilos of gold jewels and artifacts from Pre-Inca ruins. The stuff is now in the museum. Sorry, but tell Jim Perdue I can't include gold in the University collection."

    Campa sent over fifty Peruvian objects to the museum, carefully listing from whom he acquired the objects. Many of the pieces are pottery sherds, and although they are not typically on display, they can provide archeologists with valuable information. Most of the complete pottery pieces Campa bought from Ollantay Suarez, a dealer from Chincha Alta, Peru in 1957. These complete vessels show typical Peruvian pottery designs, such as "goose flesh" dots and molded forms, but lack some of the grace of classical pottery. Museum staff questions the authenticity of these complete pots but nevertheless they are useful resources for students and researchers.

    collection of peruvian artifacts
    artifacts from dr campa collection at duma
    peruvian artifacts at duma collection
    dr campa on horseback
  • Ojibwe Beaded Panels

    A student in Dr. Bonnie Clark’s Artifacts, Texts & Meanings class recently researched three beaded panels in DUMA’s collection.

    She concluded that 2006.4.4 (below left) may have been part of an Ojibwe pad saddle. The beaded panel on the right, 2006.4.4, may also have been part of a pad saddle or part of a clothing garment.  Pad saddles often feature four outer edge embellishments (see an example here).  The floral designs and white beaded borders around the outer edge of the panels are common to Ojibwe designs. Seed beads date the object between 1875 and 1940. 

    The student also concluded that 2006.4.5 (below middle) was part of a Cree tobacco bag. The panel has similar dimensions and floral patterns to other Cree tobacco pouches (see an example here).

    ojibwe beaded panel samples
  • Baleen Baskets

    Jack Reed recently donated this baleen basket to the University of Denver Museum of Anthropology. His father, John, received the basket as a gift when he worked for USGS in Southeast Alaska. After retiring, he become director of the Artic Institute of North America in Montreal and held a supervisor position for the Artic Research Reserve in Barrow, Alaska. He most likely received the basket in the 1940sand eventually gave the basket to his son.

    Baleen baskets are diverse in size, shape, and material. Artists use a variety of finial [end piece] zoomorphic motifs, such as this polar bear head, but walrus, whale, and seal are used as well. Finials can also be narrative or geometric . Some artists decorate the baleen by applying white patterns. Start and end pieces can be made of ivory, bone, or baleen. This particular basket was woven with a space-stitch coil and has ivory start and end pieces. Whaling, specifically bowhead whale hunting, is a celebrated community activity among the Eskimo. Baleen itself is a flexible and durable material, making it perfect for basketry, or for other activities such as fishing.

    baleen basket front view
    baleen basket side view