Ethnology is the study of human cultures and societies, both in their own terms and comparatively across space and time. At the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History, the work of the Division of Ethnology includes the fields of classical archaeology and non-Western art history.
The Division of Ethnology curates extensive collections of traditional art and material culture from societies around the world. These collections are especially strong for the areas of Native North and Central America. In addition to 19th and 20th century ethnographic objects and art, the division holds the Fred and Enid Brown Collection, one of the nation’s best public groupings of 20th century American Indian fine art. In addition to Native American materials, other highlights include outstanding collections from the classical Mediterranean and from East Asia.
Research in the division currently focuses on ethnographic and archival projects undertaken in collaboration with contemporary American Indian communities in Oklahoma, the southwestern and eastern United States. Topics and issues include ethnomusicology, native language use, traditional arts, ethnohistory, folklore and folklife, and cultural persistence and change.
The Division supports the exhibition projects of the museum. Exceptional works from its collections are presently exhibited and interpreted in the museum’s World Cultures Gallery, and the People of Oklahoma exhibition. New exhibition projects are presently in development.
Dr. Daniel Swan, Curator (Email)
Stephanie Allen, Collections Manager (Email)