Local Resource – Brooklyn Museum Libraries and Archives

The Brooklyn Museum Libraries hold several rare items documenting Pre-Columbian art and culture. One such item is a photo album entitled Mission Scientific Française à Tiahuanaco documenting a French government sponsored scientific mission to Bolivia in 1903. Here is a link to the digitized photographs on the Brooklyn Museum website.

The excavation centered on the Pre-Columbian site known as Tiwanaku, sometimes referred to as the Créqui-Montfort mission after the name of its sponsor, Le Comte Georges de Créqui-Montfort. The excavation centered on a Pre-Columbian archaeological site known as Tiwanaku (also spelled Tiahuanaco or Tiahuanacu) located in western Bolivia. The photographs, created by the Hermanos Sintich of La Paz, document the site during the French excavation.  The history of the excavation and development of the site has had to be reconstructed largely from these photographs as little descriptive material was published other than a brief report in the 1906 Proceedings of the 2nd Congress of Americanists published by the International Congress of Americanists. Today, the excavation is remembered as a destructive endeavor primarily due to its mandate to acquire the archaeological objects found at the site instead of preserving the original integrity of the area.

Another rare resource documenting Pre-Columbian monuments that is held in the Brooklyn Museum Libraries is a set of photographs taken by Alfred Percival Maudslay in Mexico and Central America in the 1880’s. These photographs are important today as they document archaeological sites and monuments that either have been changed or removed since the photographs were taken. The Maudslay photographs are also digitally accessible on the Museum’s website.

These are just two examples of research resources on Pre-Columbian art that can be found in the Brooklyn Museum Library. Records for what can be found in the Library collection can be found by clicking on this link. Additionally, the Brooklyn Museum Archives hold visual and textual records documenting the Museum’s collections and exhibition history. This Finding Aid outlines the Museum’s rich history in collecting and exhibiting Pre-Columbian art and culture.

This research facility is available for reference to scholars. Inquiries can be sent to library@brooklynmuseum.org

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