About the collections
The Burke Museum's ethnographic collections are world renowned. Numbering over 42,000 objects and more than 50,000 archival records, the collections focus on the cultures of the Pacific Rim. The Northwest Coast ethnographic collection is the fifth largest in the United States, with approximately 10,000 items and includes the important early Swan, Eells, Emmons, and Waters collections, as well as the unmatched Blackman-Hall and Ottenberg contemporary silkscreen print collections, and the Steinman contemporary Northwest Coast sculpture collection.
Equally strong is the Alaskan Arctic collection with 6,500-pieces, including basketry, kayaks, tools, and contemporary carvings. The collections of the Western Sub-arctic, Plateau, Plains, Great Lakes, and Southwest cultures includes baskets, beadwork, parfleches, weavings, and pottery. The Native North American basketry collection numbers over 5,200. Pacific Rim collections from throughout Asia and the Pacific Islands include nearly 15,000 items such as kava bowls, porcelain, dance masks, and samurai armor. We invite you to study the on-line collections here.
The Northwest Coast image research database is a major highlight of the department. It includes the Holm/Wright collection of images of Northwest Coast art from 200 museums and private collections (25,000 images), the Harris collection of Northwest Coast silver jewelry images (6,000 images), and de Menil photographs of Northwest Coast totem poles (1,000 images), as well as the George MacDonald Archive of historical Northwest Coast photographs.
The Ethnology division of the Burke Museum has recently acquired important Mexican, Central and South American textile collections from Leslie Grace, a Mexican ceramics collection from Fred Hart, a Mexican folk art collection from the estate of Hazel Koenig, and a contemporary collection of material culture and arts from the Solomon Islands from Marjorie Rogers. These collections and more can be seen on-line.