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Art of the Ancient Americas

Please note: The collections for the Art of the Ancient Americas are not currently on view.

This collection includes 59 artistic traditions ranging in time from 2500 B.C.–A.D. 1521, and features works from the widely recognized Aztec and Maya of Mesoamerica, Chimú and Muisca of Andean South America, and Nicoya and Atlantic Watershed of Costa Rica.

The core of the collection was established by a gift of 120 objects from Alan Wurtzburger in 1958, which broadened the scope of the existing collection and provided momentum for a traveling exhibition of Peruvian ceramics entitled Myths of Ancient Peru (1969).

Notable objects include a finely worked serpentine figure of Olmec mastery, elegant portrayals of Maya and Aztec noblewomen, and miniature gold votives in the Muisca tradition. West Mexico ceramics — a particular strength of the collection — are exemplified by an important Nayarit house model and an enthroned chief. A unique assemblage of 23 figures in dance regalia celebrates ancient performance and highlights the diversity of Colima art.

Friends of the Arts of Africa, the Pacific and the Americas (FAPA)

Join FAPA to meet fellow art lovers and learn more about the BMA’s collection of art from Africa, the Ancient Americas, and the Pacific Islands.


To connect with the Department of AAAPI, please email Dr. Shannen Hill, Associate Curator for African Art and Department Head, or Talia Lieber, Curatorial Assistant, at