Learn more about our department and its history at the Academy.
Accessing the Collection
The Anthropology collection is available to members of the originating communities as well as for study by qualified researchers and students by advance appointment only. To determine if our collection contains any objects from your cultural group, or which might prove useful to your research, please visit our online collection database which is searchable by culture, geography, object type, and other selected criteria.
If you would like to arrange a visit to view specific objects and/or related documentation, please contact the Anthropology Collection Manager. For researchers, please include a CV, brief research proposal and list of the objects and/or types of documentation you would like to view. For students, also include a letter of support from a faculty member, on institutional letterhead.
Borrowing Collection Objects
Objects from the Anthropology collection are available for loan to accredited institutions for public exhibitions and limited educational use. Please visit our online collection database to search for objects by culture, geography, object type, and other selected criteria.
If you would like to arrange to borrow objects from the collection, contact the Anthropology Collection Manager. Final approval of any loan is at the discretion of the Collection Manager and/or Curator of the Department of Anthropology.
The Department of Anthropology actively collects materials from the indigenous cultures of western North America (exclusive of Mexico) and the Pacific Rim, including East Asia, all Pacific islands, and Australia. Select items from outside these areas may also be accessioned when they complement and enhance current holdings. The Department relies almost exclusively on donations to expand the collection. Although our collection is primarily composed of ethnographic materials, items from any time period may be considered. Objects retaining good provenance data are highly preferred. Acceptance of donations is at the discretion of the Collections Manager and Curator of the Department of Anthropology.
If you are interesting in donating to the department, please contact the Anthropology Collection Manager. Please do not bring potential donations to the Academy without a prior appointment, as staff are not authorized to accept drop-offs.
Staff of the Department of Anthropology may be able to assist in identifying cultural affiliation, date of manufacture, material, and/or other aspects of anthropological items of types or from cultures with which we have expertise.
If you have an object with which you believe we might be of assistance, please contact the Anthropology Collection Manager. Please do not bring items to the Academy without a prior appointment, as staff are not authorized to accept drop-offs. For non-anthropological items, please contact the Academy’s Naturalist Center or the relevant Academy department.
The Department of Anthropology is in full compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA, 25 U.S.C. §§ 3001 et seq.). We welcome additional inquiries and communication regarding repatriation from all peoples around the world, whether or not such claims would fall under NAGPRA. Please feel free to peruse our collection database for objects from your cultural group and/or geographic region. For inquiries, assistance and additional information, please contact the Anthropology Collection Manager.
The Department usually accepts interns three times a year, for fall, spring and summer terms. Due to a variety of factors, the Department regrets that it is unable to accept intern applications for the the 2023-24 academic year. Please check back in March 2024 to see whether we will be accepting applications for Summer 2024.
Anthropology internships are in collections management, assisting with our ethnographic collection digitization project. Internships are unpaid and usually count towards course credit. For a full description of the position, click here. For more information, contact the Anthropology Collection Manager.
The Department of Anthropology periodically has volunteer opportunities in collections management. Currently there are no positions open. If you are interested in volunteering anywhere in the Academy, please contact the Academy's Volunteer Department at email@example.com. An online application is also available.
The entire Anthropology collection database is available and searchable online, with over 16,000 objects, all of which include digital images.
Requests for permission to publish are required in writing. Downloadable PDF forms are available for Permission to Publish Photographic Materials and for Permission to Publish Written Materials. Fees may apply. Please print out the appropriate page, fill in all requested data, and send it to the address listed at the bottom of the form. For further assistance, please contact the Anthropology Collection Manager.
Contact the Collection Manager
Department of Anthropology
California Academy of Sciences
55 Music Concourse Drive
San Francisco, CA 94118
Our permanent research collection consists of more than 16,000 objects, most of which are ethnographic. Current strengths include holdings from the U.S. Southwest and the Pacific Islands, and basketry from California. Our searchable online database features the entire Anthropology collection, including digital images for every piece.
The Department of Anthropology houses a collection of hominin fossil and comparative casts that are available for reference by visiting researchers and students.
The Dikika Research Project (DRP) is a multidisciplinary endeavor that seeks to address key evolutionary questions pertaining to various aspects of the paleobiology of early hominins (early human ancestors) – as well as their culture and environments over the past ca. 4.0 million years.
Our department publishes articles in scientific journals, contributes chapters to books, and produces select collection catalogs.