Cultural Resources at the Museum of Us

For over 100 years the Museum of Us has been responsible for the stewardship of hundreds of thousands of cultural resources originating from across the globe. Currently, we hold over 75,000 ethnographic items, 100,000 images and 300 linear feet of archival materials, 300,000 archeological items, and over 7,500 ancestral human remains.  Most cultural resources are of Indigenous origin with more than 200 Indigenous communities represented from within the United States and over 200 Indigenous communities internationally.  These holdings are particularly extensive in basketry, ceramics, textiles, archaeology, and ethnographic photography.

Today, we recognize that the vast majority of these cultural resources came to us through inequitable and colonial pathways. To learn more, please see the history section of the Decolonizing Initiatives page and review our Colonial Pathways Policy and Curation of Human Remains Policy. These policies govern how we steward cultural resources through prioritization of Indigenous knowledge, continuous consultation, and integration of decisions by Indigenous communities around their cultural resources.


Access to Cultural Resources

A moratorium on access to cultural resources is currently in place for all non-Indigenous researchers.  Persons requesting access to Indigenous derived cultural resources need the approval of the affected community and/or lineal descendants.  We will share contact information for the community’s representatives when possible, but it is up to the researcher to make contact and it is the researcher’s responsibility to obtain permissions. Researchers must provide documentation that they have received authorized consent before we may approve the request.

Indigenous persons requesting access may require permission from the affected community.  Community authorized consent is not required for family members related to the individuals pictured in photographs or makers of ethnographic cultural resources.

These approval processes also apply to Image Reproduction Services requests.


Contact for Inquiries

Please contact the Cultural Resources Department for further information at 619-239-2001 x 44 or