History of Anthropological Exhibits | Natural History Museum of Los Angeles

View of the Cherry African Collections, circa 1920s. Collected by William S. Cherry during the 1880s and 1890s from what was then the Belgian Congo, Cameroon, and French Equatorial Africa; it is one of the department's earliest acquisitions. Loaned to us in 1914
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Currently on exhibit from our collections...

Find highlights from our Latin American collection in the Visible Vault and come marvel at the wide variety of shapes, colors, and sizes in our Zuni Fetishes exhibit case!

Want to see more?  Look for special events like the Curator's Cupboard, where we bring interesting items out of our storerooms to share wiith visitors.

Want to Learn More About Archaeology?

Explore the link below to learn more about the patient and exact work of an archaeologist!

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History of Our Exhibits

The Museum has a rich history of permanent halls that focused primarily on our collections even prior to the establishment of an anthropology department.

To see the images and other archival photographs in more detail click HERE


History and Anthropology Exhibits in the Rotunda Building, 1920-1930

This photograph is one of the earliest pictures we have of a History Hall showing anthropology artifacts. Listed in the photo archives as the History Hall, north wing, from the southwestern stair. Taken sometime between August 1922 and January 1923. There are archeological and ethnological pieces displayed together as well as historical material and some framed artwork.

Plains Hall Exhibit, Circa 1930-1940

A view of a late Plains Hall Exhibit, this hall made use of dioramas. Many of the dioramas, such as the Plains Indian buffalo hunter and horse with travois, made use of artifacts from our collections to make them more authentic. Photographic images and maps were also used to help interpret the artifacts.

California Portion of the Hall of Western Indians

Hall of Western Indians, 1950-1970

Arthur Woodward who had a long career at the Museum as a Curator of History and Anthropology and conducted extensive archeological fiedwork in California, Arizona, and Utah developed the hall which opened in 1951. The Hall of Western Indians was one of the first halls that had a specific theme which combined Archaeology and Anthropology. Much of the archaeological portion of the hall was based on Woodward's fieldwork conducted during 1929-1941.

Entrance to the Latin American Hall. Mary Butler Mural and Aztec Sun Calendar visible

Ancient Latin American Hall, 1966-2008

Charles E. Rozaire began working for the Museum as a Curator in 1965. His primary responsibility upon being hired was to create and install a hall depicting Latin American Prehistory. Our Ancient Latin American Hall opened in October of 1966. After several updates and revisions over the years the hall closed in 2008.

Times Mirror Hall of Native American Cultures, 1992-2006

The Times Mirror Hall of Native American Cultures opened in 1992. It featured about 700 of our best ethnographic and archaeological artifacts. Margaret Hardin, Curator of Anthropology, was extensively involved in the development of this exhibit hall. Innovative at the time it had multimedia presentations, Native American consultation, a respectfuil treatment of Native American Cultures and a changing gallery to feature current Native American artists. It even had a life size model of the curator depicting a Craftsman era collectior unpacking artifacts in her home.