Crossroads of Culture: Anthropology Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library http://coloradowest.staging.auraria.edu/content/crossroads-culture-anthropology-collections-denver-museum-nature-and-science[12/8/2015 11:20:17 AM] Home Crossroads of Culture: Anthropology Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and ScienceCrossroads of Culture: Anthropology Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and ScienceSubmitted by nwharton on 9-27-2011 01:19 PMAuthor: Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Stephen Nash, and Steven R. Holen Publishing: Boulder: University Press of Colorado and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, 2010. Black and white photos, color photos, index, endnotes. v + 174 pages. 11 x 9. $11.95 paperback. Reviewer: Stephen J. Leonard Reviewer Affiliation: Metropolitan State College of Denver Since its incorporation as the Colorado Museum of Natural History in 1900, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science (DMNS) has played an important role in the cultural and intellectual life of Denver and Colorado. By the late 1920s, largely thanks to its excavations of paleo-Indian projectile points at Folsom, New Mexico, it was gaining an international reputation. Since the 1950s it has added to its luster by expanding its building in Denvers City Park, collecting tens of thousands of items, revamping its displays, and hosting crowd-pleasing traveling exhibits. Visitors to the 2007-2008 Titanic exhibit no doubt reflected on the worrisome reality that approximately 90 percent of an iceberg is hidden beneath the sea. Similarly, DMNS exhibits represent only a small part of the museums operations. As adept as it has been in showing off its treasures, the institution has not been as attentive to informing the general public of what lies beneath the surface. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people know ofthe museum. Far fewer know about its collections, donors, scholars, curators, and behind-the-scenes work. Crossroads of Culture lavishly illustrated and written for non-specialists, lifts the curtain on more than a century of archaeological and anthropological collecting. Readers learn of scholars such as museum director Jesse Dale Figgins and archaeologist Hannah Marie Wormington, who helped build the foundations underpinning our understanding of archaeology north of Mexico. Figginss diggings, a few miles south of the Colorado border, near Folsom, New Mexico, revealed that people had been in North America thousands of years longer than archaeologists had previously thought. Wormington, who became the museums curator of archaeology in 1937, published using her initials H. M. to avoid the stigma of being a women in an archaeological world dominated by men. Her Ancient Man in North America (1939), which was published by the museum and went though many editions, established her as a major scholar. Readers also learn of great collectors and benefactors such as Mary and Francis Crane, who donated their Native American collection in 1968. Overnight, says Crossroads of Culture the Denver Museum of Nature and Science ethnology collection went from nearly nonexistent to the largest between Los Angeles and Chicago (16). Denver-based anthropologist Ruth Underhill, like Wormington a woman in what was a largely mans world, authored Red Mans America (1953) and other heralded books, and enriched DMNS by EXPLORE BY MEDIABook Reviews Photographs Video Biographies New Publications Resource Guides County Newspaper HistoriesEXPLORE BY TOPICLand & Natural Resources Government & Law Agriculture Mining Commerce & Industry Transportation People & Places Communication Healthcare & Medicine Education & Libraries Cultural Communities Recreation & Entertainment Tourism ReligionEXPLORE BY CULTUREHispanic Native AmericanCasimiro Barela, state senator for over 37 years, fought to ensure Colorados first constitution was published in English, Spanish and German.
Crossroads of Culture: Anthropology Collections at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science | Center for Colorado & the West at Auraria Library http://coloradowest.staging.auraria.edu/content/crossroads-culture-anthropology-collections-denver-museum-nature-and-science[12/8/2015 11:20:17 AM] Auraria Library 303-556-4587 1100 Lawrence Street Denver, Colorado 80204 In the News Partners & Donations About Us Contact Us donating her papers. Had the authors of Crossroads stopped after the 42-page Introduction, they would likely have won praise for giving a succinct verbal overview of one aspect of the museums work. Fortunately, they went much further, devoting more than 120 pages to carefully reproduced plates and text. Artifacts which may rarely be on display are given their day in the sun. It is a day which adult museumgoers can savorfor, although it is illuminating to see the actual objects in three dimensions, it is also good to see them superbly photographed and to quietly ponder them and their accompanying text without having to vie for a spot at a display case with a gaggle of fourth graders. Individual tastes will determine each readers favorite pieces. The grillz gracing the teeth of museum CEO George Sparks pictured on Plate 99 may not appeal to everyone, but others may want to get flashy tooth caps for themselves. The Acheulean hand axe from the Middle East (Plate 142) may not suit those who prefer sharp steel edges, but fans of Antiques Road Show will be impressed with a tool more than a million years old. The small telescope pictured on Plate 39 dates back only to 1800, but it does have the distinction of having been used by explorers Lewis and Clark on their 1804 trek to the Pacific. To earn their keep, reviewers usually think it necessary to find fault with the book they review. So for my two cents, assuming that this website pays even that, I suggest that more text accompanying the plates would have led to better informed readers. Other than that, Crossroads of Culture is carefully and beautifully done Hopefully its success will prompt the museum to do similar publications on, for example, its geology and paleontology collections which, iceberg-like, extend far beneath the surface of its splendid exhibits Reviewer Info: Dr. Stephen J. Leonard is chairman of the History Department at Metropolitan State College of Denver where he has taught for more than forty years. He has authored or co-authored several books on Colorado including Lynching in Colorado, 1859-1919 Add new comment