Due to unforeseen circumstances and expected inclement weather, the Watchhouse concert originally scheduled for Saturday, October 1, has been rescheduled to Friday, October 28. Tickets for the original date can be used for the rescheduled date; just present your ticket at the new event. For additional assistance, or to request a refund, contact help@ncartmuseum.org during gallery hours, Wednesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm. Learn more on the event page.

Please note: West Building is now closed through October 7, 2022, to complete an exciting reinstallation of the People’s Collection. During this time enjoy free exhibitions on view in East Building, indoor and outdoor events and programming, and the 164-acre Museum Park. We’re excited to welcome visitors back to a new Museum experience starting October 8, 2022. Learn more about the opening weekend celebration.

Ancient American

The ancient American collection spans almost two millennia and seven countries—Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, Costa Rica, Ecuador, and Peru—and embraces a wide variety of forms, media, and artistic styles. Collectively it provides historical breadth and depth to understand numerous aspects of cultural practices, such as spirituality, aesthetics, sports, rituals, and daily life. The Ancient American art collection presents a set of beautifully designed and crafted objects that in the Museum serves as a space for cultural heritage encounters.
West Mexican, Colima state, Dog Effigy, circa 200 BCE–300 CE, ceramic with red slip paint, H. 11 × W. 9 3/4 × D. 15 in., Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Mace Neufeld


Two impressive Mesoamerican stone objects, a Ball Court Marker and a Ceremonial Ball Game Yoke, illustrate the attire of ball game players and a decorative piece of the court where the ritual ball game was played. Maya ceramic pieces are striking for their technical expertise and the creativity of represented symbols. These prestigious items were used by the Mesoamerican elite during political and religious events. The Veracruz Standing Female Deity is noteworthy for its size, its elaborate costume, and its enigmatic presence at funerary rituals. The large, expressive Nayarit human figures and the Colima vessels in the shape of animals such as parrots and dogs as well as humans and plants offer appealing glimpses of supernatural conceptions of the world through art.

Many of the most marvelous pieces in the collection come from South America, particularly the Central Andes. The group of Peruvian textiles includes different artistic traditions from the 6th, 14th, and 16th centuries. The five colorful pieces, made from various fibers, contain representations of animals, geometric designs, and human figures and display some of the finest weaving techniques in the Americas. Other remarkable South American objects include a Chimú funerary mask and a Sicán ceremonial drinking vessel (kero), both made out of gold and thought to be associated with the sun.


The Costa Rican collection is the largest and comprises an exceptional group of ceramics, including an important set of 8th-century Chiriqui and Diquis pieces. The gold and jade works serve as intermediary geographical and chronological links between the various artistic traditions in the collection.

The objects in this collection are currently being studied and examined and are not on view. The ancient American collection will be reinstalled in 2022.

Ancient American Highlights


Standing Female Deity or Deity Impersonator

(circa 600–900)


Parrot Effigy Vessel

(circa 200 B.C.E.–300 C.E.)


Dish with Lid

(circa 400–500)


Standing Female Figure

(circa 200 B.C.E.–300 C.E.)


Dog Effigy

(circa 200 B.C.E.–300 C.E.)



(circa 200–600)

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