Why is this collection so important?
It is the largest, most comprehensive on Southwest cultures anywhere. Research and study on this collection has helped define much of what we know about the Southwest. As research technology advances, discoveries in the future will be even more compelling.
What cultures are represented in this collection?
Prehistoric: Hohokam, Mogollon, Ancestral Pueblo. Historic: all the major culture groups from the southwestern United States and northern Mexico.
Can I see this exhibition at the museum?
You can still see the original exhibition here online. Please see the Online Tour Help page to learn about the options available.
How will repatriation of artifacts to native communities affect the collection?
Repatriation at ASM:
ASM was repatriating artifacts long before state or federal laws were established. In fact, we're currently preparing for the return of the very large Snaketown collection of Hohokam artifacts to the Gila River Indian community.
Repatriation for the Pottery:
Because ASM serves as a repository for archeology conducted on public lands, our collection is ‘fluid’. Artifacts come in continuously and, in a quickly growing state like Arizona, these add significantly to the collection. In fact, we are contracted to receive within the next couple years enough artifacts to effectively double what we currently hold.
We will definitely lose some magnificent pottery through repatriation, including that from the historic Snaketown excavation. However, the collection is so large, the loss will be absorbed as new additions are made. Our job remains to provide the best stewardship we can while these objects are in our care.
Would these pots have been better off if never excavated in the first place?
These pots would now be sitting in private collections and the people of Arizona would have been deprived of what we now know of our cultural history. Who knows how much we have been deprived of by pothunters and wildcat collectors.
Doesn’t the state support the museum? Why do you need private support?
Only about 1/3 of the university's budget—and the museum’s—comes from the state. Unprecedented budget cuts and recissions have made the past several years particularly challenging for all units on campus. In addition, legislative veto of building renewal funds, a portion of which were targeted for the pottery, placed the museum in a position where it had to seek support beyond traditional channels.
What is the Save America's Treasures Program?
Save America's Treasures is a public-private partnership of the White House Millennium Council, the National Parks Service and the National Trust for Historic Preservation formed in 1998 and dedicated to the celebration and preservation of our nation's threatened cultural treasures.
Projects are selected based on their national significance and the compelling case for their preservation. ASM’s project is one of the very few archaeological collections selected for this honor.
Other projects include treasures such as the flag that inspired the Star Spangled Banner, Harriet Tubman's house, Montpelier, and George Washington's headquarters at Valley Forge. These treasures comprise this country's cultural heritage mosaic.
"It is one thing to read about our history in books. It is another to understand our history by seeing it, walking through it, experiencing it first hand," Our important structures, original documents, works of art and authentic artifacts inspire us as nothing else can." - from the Save America's Treasures Web site (www.saveamericastreasures.org).
Do you get money from the federal government for being an Official Project?
Not automatically. Projects are eligible to apply for competitive grant support. Through this process ASM was awarded $400,000 to support expanded conservation and curatorial staff, equipment, shelving and other needs. This grant did support construction or the development and installation of the exhibition in the new gallery.
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