Museum Collection

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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 1.6 million 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.

Researcher pulls out specimen from large rack.
Museum Collection, circa 1935

Contact Information

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

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



Archaeology Collection

Series of four twine figures in deer-like shapes

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

Ethnology Collection

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

History Collection

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

Non-archaeological 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 24,000 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
Touching up the white paint-job on a wooden boat

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.

Archive/ Manuscript Collection

The document collection tells 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

Biology Collection

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.


Geology Collection

Dark gray Vishnu rock specimen with blue tint
Rock samples that tell the geologic history of the Grand Canyon region, including:
  • The John Maxson schist collection
  • The Eddie McKee study collection
  • Mining cores and ore samples
  • Mineral specimens


Paleontology Collection

Yellowed sloth skull against white backdrop

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.

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.

Last updated: July 27, 2018

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

PO Box 129
Grand Canyon, AZ 86023


(928) 638-7888

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