Permanent Collection - Museum of Natural & Cultural History, University of Oregon

The museum holds one of Oregon's most significant collections of Native American cultural and archaeological artifacts, spanning 15,000 years. Hand-crafted items, including textiles, musical instruments, weapons, and other objects representing traditional technologies and everyday life also come from southeast Asia, the Philippines, Africa, Oceania (in particular, New Guinea) and Africa (including Ethiopia, Mozambique, and Congo). Altogether, these collections comprise more than half a million objects.

Among the museum's holdings are items discovered by Dr. Thomas Condon – the founding father of Oregon geology – during his 19th and 20th century explorations of the John Day region, as well as by pioneering archaeologist Dr. Luther Cressman during his early 20th century desert cave excavations. Renowned museum artifacts include a famed cache of 10,000-year-old sagebrush bark sandals, extensive fossil collections, and several hundred western Indian baskets made before 1900.

Museum collections continue to grow through ongoing excavation and recovery work done by the Research Division and other archaeologists and agencies throughout the state, and through the private donations of museum supporters. In fact, the museum has been Oregon’s main center for the safekeeping of archaeological and cultural evidence produced as a result of dam and highway construction. In addition, the Collections Division – guided by important legislation – collaborates with Oregon Indian tribes on the investigation of history, the repatriation of human remains, and the preservation of important heritage sites.

Native Basket

With such vast collections, the museum can offer a rich variety of changing exhibits from year to year and provide loans to other institutions for study and display. The holdings offer significant opportunities for scholarly research that continues to enhance historical and scientific knowledge.

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