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Parts of the collection Pre-Columbian America are currently not on display.

The collection

The America collection brings together more than 40,000 works presenting a panorama of the different civilizations that developed from Alaska in the north to Tierra del Fuego in the south over a period of 5,000 years. The rich collections of the Museum provide a picture of that multiplicity and offer the visitor a broad survey of the pre-Columbian civilizations. Besides the items from well-know cultures, such as the Mayas, the Aztecs and the Incas, are others that demonstrate the mastery and expertise of anonymous artists from less well-known societies. Furthermore, the variety of materials on...

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Vessel in the form of an opossum
Vessel in the form of an opossum, Veraguas culture, 500-1000, Panama, pottery

Ethnological material

A section of the collection America is devoted to ethnological material, originating from peoples that survived the European conquest. As the last witnesses of the traditions of their pre-Columbian ancestors, those survivors are still producing masterpieces of feather-working or totem poles that keep alive the past of their clan, whether they now live in the Amazon forest or on the Indian reserves of the United States.

Totem pole
Totem pole, Kwakwaka'wakw people, Calvin Hunt and Mervyn Child, 1999, British Columbia (Canada), cedar


Among the items that can be seen are the oldest Inuit kayak in the world, as well as the life-size, terracotta seated figure from El Zapotal in Mexico, the Mochica ceramics from Peru, the wooden Chimu figure and the mummy that gained renown through their depiction in two Tintin albums, the feather finery of the Amazon Indians and so much more.

Forehead ornament representing the 'decapitator' God, bronze
Forehead ornament representing the 'decapitator' God, Moche civilization, Early Intermediate, 1-600, Peru, bronze

Serge Lemaitre