Museum Collection

Banner image linking to ASU Nature, Culture and History at the Grand Canyon shows Grand Canyon scenic view with superimposed letters: ASU Nature, Culture and History at the Grand Canyon. Click in image area to visit the ASU website.
The "Nature, Culture and History at Grand Canyon" website is the park's primary online source of historical and cultural information, Click on the photo above to visit. 
Researcher pulls out specimen from large rack.
Museum Collection, circa 1935
Monday through Friday 8:00 am - 4:00 pm
Appointments are strongly recommended

Call the staff at
(928) 638-7769

Email The Museum Collection Staff

2C Albright Avenue, Grand Canyon, AZ 86023
(Located across from the Albright Training Center)

What is the Grand Canyon Museum Collection?

The Grand Canyon Museum Collection is a storage and research facility dedicated to preserving the physical artifacts that tell the various aspects of the Grand Canyon story. The storage facility, completed in 1999, has over 6,000 square feet of climate-controlled storage and research space, and houses over 900,000 objects from seven different disciplines: archeology, ethnology, history, archive/ manuscripts, biology, geology and paleontology. Staff receive more than 2,000 research requests each year.

The Grand Canyon Museum Collection is open for study and research purposes to any interested researcher. In order to maintain its integrity, the collection may be used for reference only in a non-consumptive manner.

Museum staff must be present and will assist visitors in their searches. Because objects are irreplaceable, their use is generally restricted to onsite examination.




The Archeology Collections:

The material remains of past human life and activities at Grand Canyon, including:

• Lithic tools dating back 12,000 years to the Paleo-Indians
• Archaic split- twig figurines
• Prehistoric basketry
• Ancestral Puebloan pottery
• Prehistoric sandals, textiles and adornment artifacts
• Mining and early tourism artifacts

Series of four twine figures in deer-like shapes

The Ethnology Collections:
Traditional basket woven of black and tan twine

The material artifacts of the native cultures that have inhabited the Grand Canyon region from the historic period through the present, including:

• Havasupai baskets
• Hopi kachinas, pottery, baskets
• Navajo silver, rugs, pottery
• Paiute baskets
• Ethnobotanical materials


The History Collections:

Top: John Wesley Powell's watch, Bottom: John Hance talking to Teddy Roosevelt

Non-archeological material artifacts of the non-native cultures at Grand Canyon, including:

  • John Wesley Powell's pocket watch
  • The Walter Clement Powell diaries from the second Powell expedition
  • A pen used by Woodrow Wilson to sign the act creating Grand Canyon National Park in 1919
  • Photos from the 1873 George Wheeler expedition
  • Over 200 oral history tapes, videos and transcripts
  • Over 1,000 maps and blueprints
  • More than 22,000 black and white photographs
  • Over 200 rare or out-of-print books
  • Over 80 hours of historic film footage
  • Original paintings by Thomas Moran, Louis Akin, Gunnar Widforss, Hiroshi Yoshida
  • Over 200 oral history interviews
Touching up the white paint-job on a wooden boat

The Historic Boat Conservation Project
The Grand Canyon historic boat collection is comprised of 19 boats that comprehensively illustrate the history of river running on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, with the oldest boat dating back to 1909. The project to conserve this unique collection started in July 2003, with the removal of the boats from unprotected exhibit. The conservation efforts continue with each boat receiving a meticulous cleaning and stabilization treatment from professional conservators.

view of archive room with records stored in space-saver storage racks, 3/4 view of storage.

The Archives/ Manuscript Collections:

The document collections that tell the Grand Canyon story through photos and in writing, including:

  • 350 linear feet of park archives
  • 1930's CCC project reports
  • Superintendents' Monthly Reports, 1931-1967
  • The Mary Colter Desert View Watchtower collection
  • The Louise Hinchcliffe park library vertical files
  • The 1935 Vegetative Study record
  • TWA - United airlines 1956 air accident files

The Biology Collections:

A collection of plant and animal specimens that document the life zones of the Grand Canyon region, including:

Yellow swallowtail butterfly pinned to white paper

• Over 14,000 herbarium specimens, including the Rose Collom, Walter Cottam and Merkle collections
• Over 9,000 entomological specimens
• Over 2,000 animal study skins, skeletons and scat materials
• An alcohol collection with over 300 reptiles and amphibians

More Grand Canyon herbarium specimens are stored at the Museum of Northern Arizona Herbarium, the Northern Arizona Deaver herbarium, and the Desert Botanical Gardens, near Phoenix.


The Geology Collections:

The rock samples that tell the geologic history of the Grand Canyon region, including:

Dark gray Vishnu rock specimen with blue tint

• The John Maxson schist collection
• The Eddie McKee study collection
• Mining cores and ore samples
• Mineral specimens


Yellowed sloth skull against white backdrop

The Paleontology Collections:

The fossil remains from past geologic periods at Grand Canyon, including:

• Bass limestone stromatolites
• Cambrian eocrinoids
• Hermit shale ferns and insect wing
• Coconino sandstone reptile tracks
• Pleistocene ground sloth remains



The Museum Collection has a collection of over 22,000 black and white photographs that may be loaned, scanned or purchased for exhibit, research and publishing projects. Several photos can also be copied onto CD-Rom’s for purchase.

Onsite photocopying services are available.

We Need Your Help

The park is always seeking donations to enhance the collections. Contact Museum Collection staff for information about donating photographs, documents, or other materials.

Last updated: February 12, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023


(928) 638-7888

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