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date: 23 March 2023

The Mesoamerican Collection of the National Museum of Denmarklocked

The Mesoamerican Collection of the National Museum of Denmarklocked

  • Jesper NielsenJesper NielsenDepartment of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies, University of Copenhagen


The National Museum of Denmark, located in the Danish capital of Copenhagen, holds a small but significant collection of archaeological and ethnographic objects from Mesoamerica. The collection includes artefacts from a broad span of the Mesoamerican cultures, including the Olmec, Zapotec, Teotihuacán, Mixtec, Maya, and Aztec. The majority have derived not from controlled excavations but have entered the museum as donations, purchases, or exchanges with other museums. Although Mesoamerican objects have presumably been part of the museum’s Ethnographic Collection since the first half of the 18th century, a more active acquisition policy was initiated in the 1860s and the next century saw the gradual expansion of the collection. Some of the most remarkable pieces have received international scholarly attention, in particular two Late Postclassic mosaic-encrusted wooden objects and a 16th-century indigenous map from Oaxaca. But, as a whole, the collection has been largely unknown to researchers working with Mesoamerican archaeology and history. Characteristically, the collection also contains a number of forgeries, which in themselves contribute to the larger narrative of the growing interest in ancient Mesoamerica and the expansion of ethnographic collections in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries.


  • Cultural History

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