Lowell D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology


Lowell D. Holmes Museum of Anthropology

This is a small but interesting museum located within the Neff Hall at the Wichita State University. It contains cultural items from around the world, but a majority of the archaeological objects are from the United States Midwest and Southwest regions.

The roots of this museum goes back to 1966, when the Museum of Man was founded at the bequest of Dr. Lowell Holmes, a Professor of Anthropology at Wichita State University.

Today, the museum fulfills many different functions and is one of the designated repositories for United States Government archaeological collections. The museum is open to the public, but is also an important facility for the university’s anthropology department, including being a research hub for students and faculty, and serving as the basis for a museum studies program.


Location: Wichita State University, 1845 Fairmount St (Neff Hall), Wichita, KS 67260 United States

Coordinates: 37°43′5″N 97°17′35″W

Examples of collections

Pre-Columbian pottery collections

  • The David Jackman collection contains Casas Grande and Colima ceramics.
  • The Aitchison collection contains ceramics from several different Pre-Columbian cultures, including Maya, Veracruz, and several Pueblo cultures.

Asmat art collection

The Asmat art collection was founded when the museum led an expedition to Western New Guinea in 2001. It contains nearly a thousand pieces of Asmat tribal art.

In 2007, the museum returned to the Asmat region of New Guinea and produced videos to provide more context for the items. These videos are available at the museum’s educational Asmat website.

Chinese minority clothing and ethnographic art collection

In 1988-1989, museum staff traveled to China and returned with clothing and other ethnographic objects from minority cultures in Northwestern and Southern China. This collection also contains objects from Inner Mongolia and Tibet.

Archaeology collections

The museum is a repository for Federal Government Archaeological collections and an official Long Term Curation Facility for the Bureau of Reclamations.

Many of the archaeological objects preserved by the museum are from Kansas and nearby parts of the American Southwest.

Museum of Anthropology

The Southwestern Art: A Story of Transition and Change

One example of an exhibition at the museum that proved very popular is The Southwestern Art: A Story of Transition and Change. It features items from both the Morgan Collection of Southwest Pueblo pottery and the Mullen collection of Southwest Jewelry, and in addition to pottery and jewelry there is also quite a lot of textiles (chiefly Hopi and Navajo). The exhibition is centered on the impact of the railroad and expanding tourism in the region, and how art and crafts became an important source of income for many Pueblo families.


  • The History of Man was created in 1966 at the bequest of Dr. Lowell Holmes, Professor of Anthropology at Wichita State University.
  • During the rest of the 20th century, the museum grew slowly but steadily. It was chiefly run and operated by students doing museum studies training.
  • In 1999, the museum (and the rest of the anthropology department) moved to Neff Hall. In conjunction with this, the museum was enlarged and, for the first time ever, a museum director was hired.