William P. Palmer III

Northwest Coast material culture

Prehispanic Mesoamerican artifacts

The William P. Palmer III Collection represents a broad spectrum of Precolumbian and Northwest Coast art collected between 1965 and 1970 and provides the foundation for the traveling exhibits Images for Eternity: West Mexican Tomb Figures , Worldviews: Maya Ceramics from the Palmer Collection , and Cosmos in Clay: Ancient Ceramics and Gold from Panama as well as the permanent exhibit in the World Cultures Gallery.

Objects in the collection include 550 tomb figures from the Colima, Jalisco and Nayarit cultures of Western Mexico, making it the largest institutional collection in the United States and a significant resource to researchers and the general public. The collection includes 1,150 ceramic figurines, mostly from the Michoacán and Chupícuaro cultures of Mexico, as well as important examples from Teotihuacan, Maya, Tlapacoya, Tlatilco and Huastec cultures.

William Palmer’s collection of Maya artifacts includes 200 examples of ceramic, jade, bone and stone from Guatemala, Honduras and southeastern Mexico, including polychrome vases from the highland sites of Nebaj and Chamá. Approximately 225 ceramic, jade, stone, bone and metal objects in the collection represent the Olmec, Aztec, Mixtec, Zapotec and Veracruz cultures of Mexico and Central America.

The collection also includes 225 Coclé polychrome ceramics and gold items from Panama, 25 jade, stone and ceramic objects from Costa Rica, 50 Casas Grandes and 45 Mimbres ceramics from the greater Southwest, 15 Peruvian ceramics, 5 Ecuadorian ceramics and 20 Mississippian ceramics and stone objects. Additionally, William Palmer bequeathed more than 200 exceptional ethnographic objects from the cultures of the Northwest Coast of North America.