Items in the collections of the Museum of Ethnography often take you by surprise. This object from South America is part of the large Silva Castro Collection from 1865

The Americas

The Museum of Ethnography has a substantial number of collections from the Native Americans of North, Middle and South America and also from the Inuit people (Eskimos) in Alaska and Greenland. One reason for such a large number of collections is that Swedish researchers from various scientific disciplines were among the pioneers to carry out fieldwork in this huge double continent.

The museum is much renowned for its pre-Columbian collections. For example, Archaeologist Carl V. Hartman (1862-1941) lay the foundation for scientific archaeology in Costa Rica with his pioneering epoch-making excavations in 1896-1897 and Sigvald Linné (1899-1986) became best known for his acclaimed excavations during the 1930's of the former huge 'American Indian city' Teotihuacan (150 BC-700 AD) in the Valley of Mexico.

The Swedish Americanist enthusiasts, i.e. researchers on the Native American people and culture, have not only been interested in pre-Columbian civilisations with their magnificent architecture, art traditions and wide-ranging intellectual achievements but equally so in the ethnography of the contemporary modern-day Native Americans. Stating his solidarity to the Native Americans, to the American Indians, at the beginning of the 1900's, the legendary expert of south American Indians Erland Nordenskiöld (1877-1932) set the tone for and inspired later generations of Swedish Americanist researchers. The comprehensive ethnographic collections at the Museum of Ethnography are representative of all Native American culture areas with the exception of the subarctic region from where the Museum has only a few collections.