The ASU Museum holds over 70,000 objects that cover a wide range of study. Less than 10% of the Museum's collections are on exhibit at any given time, while the rest of the collection is used for study and temporary exhibits.
Major areas in our collections include:
Twenty-four thousand objects record over 500 million years of change in this region. Fossil specimens dating from the Paleozoic through the Cenozoic eras were carefully assembled by Dr. Wittlake, a paleobotanist and formerly the Museum director. The Crowley's Ridge area (running from Helena, AR, into Missouri) has yielded abundant mastodon finds, as well as giant beaver, sloth, and bison remains. All of these, along with a nearly complete Palaeolama skeleton are represented in our collections. Recent specimens include over 90 varieties of native birds (including 10 species of woodpeckers and all 38 species of duck that fly over Arkansas). Thirty-seven mammal specimens include the major animals of Northeast Arkansas and a unique exhibit on albinos, which includes 11 species.
Over 3,000 artifacts document the early human habitation in the Mississippi Delta region through the 17th century. Dalton Culture stone tools and points dating from 9500 to 7500 B.C. are a popular attraction. One of the few large collections of Cherry Valley phase pottery (1250 A.D.) is also included in the Museum's holdings. Holdings from later sites document the changes that took place as a result of population shifts in North America and, eventually, contact with European culture and trade goods.
Over 4,000 objects tell the story of Arkansas from the first recorded history of the area to the recent past. Stone tools, burned corn, and effigy pots dating from 1350 to 1650 A.D. as well as recent objects including a doll in winter costume, beadwork, a ball stick, barbed wire, and land grant records cover Quapaw culture. Additional Native American collections focus on Southwest cultures and traditional decorative arts by Native Americans. Artifacts related to the european settlement of Arkansas include agricultural tools, a covered wagon,and household goods. History objects document the coming of the railroads to Northeast Arkansas (which allowed increased settlement and economic opportunity) and later industrial development in the area. The military history collection includes 900 objects from practically every U.S. conflict from the Revolutionary War through Operation Desert Storm, with an emphasis on Arkansans involved.
Photographs, Archives, and Research Library
These collections enable staff, students, and the public to research topics related to the object collections and enhance Museum exhibits. Significant holdings of photographs include the Northeast Arkansas Photographic Legacy, a project sponsored by the Arkansas Endowment for the Humanities which resulted in 1,200 copies of images of historic significance, and the Curtis Duncan collection of almost 3,000 photographs emphasizing the culture and history of the Mississippi Delta region, as well as several family collections dating from the introduction of the Daguerreotype process in the 1840s. The archive contains holdings of local historical interest. The library holds over 3,000 historic books used in Northeast Arkansas or related to the Museum's collections, featuring several first editions of missionary and pioneer memoirs. An additional 4,000 modern books support research of the collections as well as issues in collections management and Museology. The library is non-circulating, but ASU students and the public are able to research the library collection during normal office hours or by appointment.