The permanent research collection of the Department of Anthropology comprises approximately 16,000 objects, most of which are ethnographic. The Department actively collects material of the indigenous cultures of western North America (exclusive of Mexico) and of the Pacific Rim, including all Pacific islands and East Asia. Current strengths of the collection are holdings from the U.S. Southwest and the Pacific Islands, and basketry from California. Earlier years of collecting have yielded both ethnographic and archaeological materials from East Africa, the Middle East, Europe, and Central and South America.
Collection Database Introduction
This site provides access to collection data housed in the Department of Anthropology, California Academy of Sciences. These data and images are copyrighted by the California Academy of Sciences, © 2013.
The database includes digital images of the entire collection. Objects with older images may have lower quality photographs. Rephotographing these pieces is an going project, with additional images added as they are produced.
These data may be viewed and downloaded by individual researchers or research groups for their private use, but they may not be repackaged, sold, or redistributed in any form without the express written consent of the Department of Anthropology, California Academy of Sciences. If any of the data are used in an analysis or report, the provenance of the original data must be acknowledged, and the Department of Anthropology, California Academy of Sciences notified. All photographs are copyright © California Academy of Sciences, with all rights reserved. Written permission must be obtained for all publication use and a complimentary copy of any publications resulting from the use of these data and images must be provided to the Department of Anthropology. Publication fees are charged, but may be waived upon request for scientific and not-for-profit educational uses. For more information on the access and/or use of data and images, please see our FAQs in the right-hand column of this web page. These FAQs include applicable contact information and downloadable permission request forms.
Accuracy and Limitation of Liability
The Department of Anthropology makes every attempt to provide reliable identification and descriptions of the objects in its collection, but we cannot guarantee the accuracy of these data. The Department has been collecting ethnographic materials and producing catalog records since 1853. Over the years, many people have worked on researching and further identifying objects in our collection. Some catalog records contain very little information, sometimes no more than a catalog number and name of object; other records are considered complete in their descriptions and identification. There are bound to be inaccuracies and misspellings, but we feel that the benefits of searching our entire database far outweigh the lack of complete information and/or any errors that may be present. If errors are found, we would greatly appreciate it if you would bring it to our attention. You may send your comments via email to rhartman at calacademy dot org.
Positive identification should be verified by direct inspection of the objects themselves whenever possible. The California Academy of Sciences and its staff are not responsible for damage, injury or loss due to the use of these data. The collection staff of the Department of Anthropology will be happy to provide additional information, if available. Contact Senior Collection Manager Russell Hartman at rhartman at calacademy dot org or (415) 379-5385.
The data and images in the Anthropology collection database are being revised and added to on a daily basis. The Web version of our database is updated monthly, providing you with the most current information possible.
Accessing the collection
The Anthropology collections are available for study by qualified researchers by advance appointment only. To determine if our collection contains any objects which might prove useful to your research, please visit our online collection database which is searchable by culture, geography, object type, and other selected criteria.
If you would like to arrange a visit to view specific objects and/or related documentation, please contact Senior Collection Manager Russell Hartman at rhartman at calacademy dot org or (415) 379-5385.
Borrowing collection objects
Objects from the Anthropology collections are available for loan to accredited institutions for public exhibitions and limited educational use. Please visit our online collection database to search for objects by culture, geography, object type, and other selected criteria.
If you would like to arrange to borrow objects from the collections, contact Senior Collection Manager Russell Hartman at rhartman at calacademy dot org or (415) 379-5385. Final approval of any loan is at the discretion of the Collection Manager and/or Curator of the Department of Anthropology.
The Department of Anthropology actively collects materials from the indigenous cultures of western North America (exclusive of Mexico) and the Pacific Rim, including all Pacific islands and East Asia. Select items from outside these areas may also be accessioned when they complement and enhance current holdings. The Department relies almost exclusively on donations to expand its collection. Although our collection is primarily composed of ethnographic materials, items from any time period may be considered. Objects retaining good provenance data are highly preferred. Acceptance of donations is at the discretion of the Collection Manager and Curator of the Department of Anthropology.
If you are interesting in donating to the department, please contact Senior Collection Manager Russell Hartman at rhartman at calacademy dot org or (415) 379-5385.
Staff of the Department of Anthropology may be able to assist in identifying cultural affiliation, date of manufacture, material, and/or other aspects of anthropological items of types or from cultures with which we have expertise.
If you have an object with which you believe we might be of assistance, please contact Senior Collection Manager Russell Hartman at rhartman at calacademy dot org or (415) 379-5385. For non-anthropological items, please contact the Academy’s Naturalist Center or the relevant Research department.
Professional standards prohibit Academy staff members from appraising items or recommending an appraiser. Please locate a professional appraiser qualified in the area relevant to your item(s).
The Department of Anthropology is currently accepting intern applications in collections management, to assist with our ethnographic collection digitization project. Internships are unpaid and usually count towards course credit. All positions have been filled through fall 2013. Applications for spring 2014 are due by Jan. 15. For a full description of the position and instructions on how to apply, click here. For more information, contact the department at (415) 379-5385 or email rhartman at calacademy dot org.
There are currently no volunteer positions available in the Department of Anthropology.
The Department of Anthropology periodically has volunteer opportunities in collections management. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact the Academy's Volunteer Department at (415) 379-5111 or via email at volunteer at calacademy dot org to request an application.
The entire Anthropology collection database is available and searchable online, including digital images for the entire collection.
Requests for permission to publish are required in writing. Downloadable PDF forms are available for Permission to Publish Photographic Materials and for Permission to Publish Written Materials. Please print out the appropriate page, fill in all requested data, and send it to the address listed at the bottom of the form. For further assistance, please contact Senior Collection Manager Russell Hartman at rhartman at calacademy dot org or (415) 379-5385.