American Museum of Natural History. Hall of South American Peoples.

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Exist Dates

approximately 1904 - present

Biographical or Historical Note

abstract
Permanent exhibition. Opened approximately 1904. Located on Floor 3, Section 4 from approximately 1904 to approximately 1930, and Floor 2, Section 8 from 1931 to present. Floor plans in the General Guides indicate that the hall did not move to Floor 2, Section 8 until 1934, however, an updated South American hall opened in 1931, and it is possible the floor plans may not have been updated in the guides. The Hall of South American Peoples at the American Museum of Natural History features exhibits of the pre-Columbian cultures of the Inca, Moche, Chavin, and Chancay as well as the traditional cultures of modern Amazonia (1) The hall was remodeled twice with new openings in 1931 and 1989. Curators for the hall have included Ronald Olson, W.C. Bennett, Junius Bird, Robert Carneiro, and Craig Morris (2, 1970/71 p. 20; 2, 1984/85, p. 4).

In the early twentieth century, the Hall of South American Peoples exhibited archeological objects of prehistoric peoples from Peru, Colombia, and Bolivia and contained some collections from the West Indies (2, 1904, p. 22; 2, 1911, p. 60). Exhibits included decorative art, food, musical instruments, trephined skulls, weapons, gold and silver, featherwork, pottery, basketry, agricultural tools, Peruvian mummy bundles, and a Chilean mummy. The 1904 General Guide states that the hall was considered incomplete and that future acquisitions would fill the gaps (3, 1904, p. 28; 3, 1911, p. 65-68).

In November of 1931 the hall moved to the second floor and reopened with some updates. The curators for this renovation were Ronald Olson and W.C. Bennett (2, 1931, p. 47). The hall then added miniature groups and a recreation of a copper mine at Chuquicamata, Chile featuring the mummy of a miner (3, 1936, p. 83; 3, 1939, p. 145).

A related, temporary hall, the Men of the Montaña, featured artifacts related to the cultures of the Montaña, lower Amazon, and Andes with a mannequin of a Cashibo bow hunter outside the entrance to the hall. Exhibits included forest agriculture, arrows, blow guns, poison darts, hunting weapons, feather ornaments, jewelry, musical instruments, tobacco pipes, children's toys, and a model of a ceremonial rite of passage for an adolescent Panoan girl. Authentic jungle noises, such as monkeys, parrots, toads, toucans, and insects, played in the hall. The Men of the Montaña was open in the late 1960s and early 1970s while the Hall of South American Peoples was closed pending a renovation (3, 1956, p. 191-193; 4, 1967; 5, 1972 p. 6).

Plans and preparations for the next renovation were conducted under the direction of curators Junius Bird, Robert Carneiro, and Craig Morris, and senior designer Eugene Bergmann. Grants were received from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the IMS (2, 1970/71, p. 20; 2, 1984/8,5 p. 4; 2, 1985/86 p. 5; 2, 1988/89 p. 44-45). The new hall and current iteration as of 2017, reopened in January 1989. Divided into an introductory section, an archeology section on the coastal and highland regions, and a section on the Indians of Amazonia, the hall showcases about 2,300 objects and covers more than 12,000 years of history. Cultures represented include the ancient Inca, Moche, Chavin, and Chancay. Highlights include an open-air model of a Sipán tomb excavation from the Moche civilization on Peru’s north coast, an acoustic accompaniment of Andean music, Amazon featherwork, a silver llama figurine from the Inca, Nasca ceramics and textiles, and a harpoon and canoe model of the Yaghan (Yámana) people of Tierra del Fuego of Southern South America (2, 1988/89 p. 44-45; 1). Visitors to the hall can also view a video presentation, To Survive: Indians of the Amazon produced by Robert Dierbeck and narrated by Richard Kiley (6)

Floor 2, Section 8. From 1930. 1934, 1935, 1936 GG indicates West Wing. 1953, 1956, 1958 GG indicated hall number 2-D.

Sources

    (1) American Museum of Natural History. Hall of South American Peoples, accessed June 6, 2017, http://www.amnh.org/exhibitions/permanent-exhibitions/human-origins-and-cultural-halls/hall-of-south-american-peoples.
    (2) American Museum of Natural History. Annual Reports. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1913-1934.
    (3) American Museum of Natural History. General Guide [to the Exhibition Halls of] the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1913-1936.
    (4) American Museum of Natural History. The American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History: A Pictorial Guide, 1967.
    (5) American Museum of Natural History. The American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1972.
    (6) Hall of South American Peoples. American Museum of Natural History, New York, NY. June 6, 2017.
    (7) American Museum of Natural History. Official Guide to the American Museum of Natural History. New York: American Museum of Natural History, 1984.
    Information for the hall appears in the following Museum publications:
    American Museum of Natural History Annual Reports for years 1904 (page 22); 1911 (page 60); 1912 (page 71); 1914 (page 21, 73); 1930 (page 38, 42, 53); 1931 (page 47, 60); 1935 (page 13); 1970 (page 20); 1971 (page 16); 1972 (page 16); 1979 (page 13, 49); 1980 (page 8, 10); 1981 (page 2, 9, 48); 1982 (page 2); 1983 (page 12, 58); 1984 (page 4, 56); 1985 (page 5); 1986 (page 5); 1987 (page 5); 1988 (page 44); 1990 (page 6); 1991 (page 13, 78)
    American Museum of Natural History General Guides for years 1904 (Table of Contents, page 26); 1911 (page 55, 65); 1913 (page 77); 1914 (page 85); 1916 (page 91); 1918 (page 84); 1919 (page 87); 1920 (page 87); 1921 (page 87); 1922 (page 87); 1923 (page 87); 1926 (page 38); 1927 (page 38); 1928 (page 78); 1929 (page 78); 1930 (page 78); 1931 (page 97); 1932 (page 97); 1933 (page 99); 1934 (page 80); 1935 (page 80); 1936 (page 80); 1939 (page 17, 143); 1943 (page 17, 150); 1945 (page 17, 150); 1947 (page 17, 150); 1949 (page 17, 150); 1953 (Floor plans, page 24, 185); 1956 (page 26, 188); 1958 (page 26, 190); 1962 (page 12); 1964 (page 25)
    American Museum of Natural History: An Pictorial Guide, 1967
    American Museum of Natural History: An Introduction, 1972
    American Museum of Natural History Official Guide for years 1984 (page 45); 1993 (page 39, 50); 2001 (Table of Contents, page 35, 61)

Terms

place
New YorkExternal link
AMNH: Floor 2, Section 8. [Additional location information: Floor 3, Section 4. From 1904, the hall was located in the West Wing section, also called Southwest Wing, Hall Number 302. Floor 2, Section 8. From 1930. 1934, 1935, 1936 General Guide indicates West Wing. 1953, 1956, 1958 GG indicated hall number 2-D.]

Related Corporate, Personal, and Family Names

Behrman, Grant G.External link
Producer, video sequence in hall, To Survive: Indians of Amazonia (6).
Bennett, Wendell Clark 1905-1953
Curator for hall (2, 1931, p. 47).
Bergmann, Eugene
Exhibition Department, hall designer, 1980s renovation (2, 1988/89, p. 44-45).
Bird, Junius Bouton 1907-1982
Curator for hall (2, 1970/71 p. 20).
Bryan, Julien
Producer, video sequence in hall, To Survive: Indians of Amazonia (6).
Carneiro, Robert L. (Robert Leonard) 1927-
Curator for hall (2, 1970/71 p. 20).
Dierbeck, RobertExternal link
Producer, video sequence in hall, To Survive: Indians of Amazonia (6).
Dutilleux, Jean-PierreExternal link
Producer, video sequence in hall, To Survive: Indians of Amazonia (6).
Gregor, Thomas
Consulting anthropologist, video sequence in hall, To Survive: Indians of Amazonia (6).
Juilliard, Augustus D.
Donor to hall (2, 1914, p. 73-74).
Kiley, RichardExternal link
Narrator, video sequence in hall, To Survive: Indians of Amazonia (6).
Landmann, Frederick E.
Donor to hall, (2, 1987/88, p. 5).
Landmann, Frederick E., Mrs.
Donor to hall, (2, 1987/88, p. 5).
Mead, Charles W. (Charles Williams) 1845-1928
Curator for hall (2, 1912, p. 71).
Morgan, J. Pierpont (John Pierpont) 1837-1913
Secured Chilean mummy (7, 1984, p. 45).
Morris, Craig
Curator for hall during 1980s renovation (2, 1988/89, p. 44-45).
Narahara, Ushinosuke
Artist, Chama miniature (2, 1935, p. 13).
Olson, Ronald L. (Ronald Leroy) 1895-1979
Curator for hall during 1930s renovation (2, 1931, p. 47).
Pasini, Carlos
Producer, video sequence in hall, To Survive: Indians of Amazonia (6).
Scheer, Peter
Editor, video sequence in hall, To Survive: Indians of Amazonia (6).
Schlenker, Hermann
Cinematographer, video sequence in hall, To Survive: Indians of Amazonia (6).
Yost, JamesExternal link
Consulting anthropologist, video sequence in hall, To Survive: Indians of Amazonia (6).

Related Resources

subjectOf
Historic Halls of the American Museum of Natural History
Curated digital images of permanent halls in the American Museum of Natural History Library, Digital Special Collections.

Written by: Clare O'Dowd
Last modified: 2017 August 28


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