About Arizona State Museum

ASM Director Patrick D. Lyons giving a tour

ASM Director Patrick D. Lyons, Ph.D., is an archaeologist and ceramics expert.

Arizona State Museum (ASM) is the oldest and largest anthropological research facility in the U.S. Southwest, with expansive collections that are exceptional resources for the teaching, study, and understanding of the region’s 13,000-year human history.

ASM serves the State of Arizona as its official archaeological repository and as the permitting authority for archaeological activity on state land. In addition to 40,000 cubic feet of archaeological research materials, ASM curates millions of archaeological, ethnographic, and modern objects created by the Indigenous peoples of the region. It holds the world’s largest and most comprehensive collection of Native North American basketry, composed of 35,000 specimens of woven fiber, dating back some 7,000 years. ASM also holds the world’s largest, most comprehensive, and best documented collection of Southwest Indigenous pottery, with 24,000 whole-vessel specimens dating back more than 2,000 years. Its photographic and library/archive collections are similarly unparalleled. Its conservation laboratory and preservation program are world-renowned.

Established in 1893, ASM is one of the University of Arizona’s original research units (UA was established in 1885). ASM scholars are leaders in their fields, with research cutting across many disciplines. Each year, ASM hosts students and researchers from around the globe who consult the collections to expand the frontiers of knowledge in archaeology, ethnology, ethnohistory, materials science, climate science, and other related fields; by students seeking to learn the current state of knowledge in those same fields; and by Native artists seeking to learn from and gain inspiration from ancestors and relatives.

In addition to engaging university students through classroom, laboratory, and field instruction, ASM offers a full calendar of public programs celebrating the ancient and enduring Native cultures of the region, sharing its expertise and collections with visitors of all ages through exhibits, school programs, lectures, hands-on activities, master classes, and travel tours.

ASM is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution and accredited by the American Alliance of Museums.

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