New York City Travel
Africa exhibits and permanent collections in the museum. Guide and description for visitors.    
American Museum of Natural History.


This hall of the American Museum of Natural History, in the main, is given over to a systematic out-line of the archaeology of North America; the exhibit in the Tower Room adjoining, to Old World archaeology. The objects have been grouped according to areas and states. Typical objects of ancient pottery, arrow-heads, stone axes and other implements of stone and bone, most of which are from burial mounds, are exhibited. The most important of these are the rude implements and fragments of human bones from the Trenton gravels, which form conclusive evidence of the antiquity of man on this continent. The cases on either side of the entrance to the Tower Room are devoted to physical anthropology.

In the Tower Room, adjoining will be found many stone implements and rude carvings from men of the Old Stone Age of Egypt, Denmark and southwestern Europe. Upon the walls are copies of paintings of bison, mammoths, horses, wolves and reindeer from the caves of Altamira and Font de Gaume in Spain and France respectively. If is of interest to compare the crude stone implements of this period with those finely worked objects of a similar nature in the collections of our early Indians in the hall just visited.


This hall of the American Museum of Natural History is dedicated to history of africa. It differs from others containing ethnographical specimens in having introduced a number of characteristic African mammals. While inspecting the exhibits the visitor would do well to bear in mind that the installation is geographical, i.e., collections from the natives of south Africa (Bushmen, Hottentots and Negroes) are installed on the south or entrance side of the hall, those from the tribes of east Africa on the right or east side, those from the north at the north end, and those from the west along the west side.

On the south the exhibits are given over to material collected from among the Bushmen, the most ancient and primitive of African natives. Full-size, life-like plaster figures of the natives, also their works of art and their implements, are exhibited. That the negro is above all an artisan in iron work is demonstrated by the finished products (curiously formed knives, axes and spears) which are in evidence throughout the hall. While his work as a blacksmith seems to predominate, one must not lose sight of his work in textiles. In the large central rectangle devoted to Congo ethnology, are beautiful examples of this art. The products of the loom are represented by the beautifully woven pile cloths of the Bakuba, woven by the men from patterns supplied by the women.

In addition are numerous finely carved wooden vessels, images, basketry and well molded pottery vessels. In the northwestern section of the hall are bronze and brass castings made by a process similar to that used in Europe in the Renaissance period. Throughout the collections are numerous fetiches and charms believed to give security in battle or to avert sickness or evils. Masks used by medicine men are also in evidence.

As an addition to the general attractiveness of the arrangement of the specimens, there is a mural border of typical scenery of the several sections of the Dark Continent.

When space is available these collections will be greatly enhanced by the addition of material of the history of africa.
To the left of the elevators is a room for the use of the Members of the Museum. Near-by is a bronze tablet in memory of Jonathan Thorne, through whose generous be-quest it is possible for the
American Museum of Natural History to provide lectures and objects for the instruction of the blind.
On the stairway walls are caribou skulls and antlers.

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