Overview of Collections
The Fowler's collections comprise more than 120,000 art and ethnographic and 600,000 archaeological objects representing ancient, traditional, and contemporary cultures of Africa, Native and Latin America, and Asia and the Pacific. From Yoruba beaded arts of Southern Nigeria, to pre-Columbian ceramic vessels of Peru, to elaborate batik textiles of Indonesia and the vibrant papier-mâché sculptures of Mexico, the Fowler's collections offer a comprehensive resource for exhibitions and scholarship central to the Museum's mandate.
The majority of the Museum's holdings has been acquired via the generosity of individuals—researchers, scholars, and dedicated collectors—who have enabled the Fowler to build its world-class collections. The Sir Henry Wellcome Collection of 30,000 objects, assembled early in the last century by Wellcome and given to the Museum in 1965, forms the core of our African and Pacific holdings and represents the single largest gift. More than 20,000 textiles trace the history of cloth over two millennia and across five continents. Objects from the Fowler Family Silver Collection include 400 works representing 16th- through 19th-century Europe and the United States. Among these are vessels from the renowned workshops of Paul de Lamerie, Karl Fabergé, and Paul Revere.
The majority of holdings has been collected in the field and systematically documented, providing essential contextual information. Maintaining geographical scope and artistic variety and building on existing strengths continue to be guiding principles in acquisitions decisions. For example, as the Museum augments its programming to meet the interests of the city's growing Latin American population, collection activities in this area have increased. An exceptional collection of more than 900 Mexican works was donated in 1997 by the Daniel Family and includes magnificent ceramic Trees of Life, Day of the Dead figurines, and masks from Metepec, Oaxaca, Michoacan, Jalisco, Puebla, and Guanajuato.