Loyola University Chicago

Department of Anthropology

May Weber Ethnographic Collection

Photo

Anthropology students Emily Dattilo and Tom Brown work with an Indonesian shadow puppet from the May Weber Collection

Curated and managed by the Department of Anthropology at Loyola University Chicago, the collection consists of approximately 2500 pieces of ethnographic art collected in the mid to late twentieth century by Dr. May Weber, a Chicago-based psychiatrist. Weber’s interest in aesthetically compelling materials from outside Western fine art traditions, her travels, and relationships with tribal art dealers resulted in a personal collection with global geographic diversity of aesthetic works in traditional and contemporary mediums. Weber was especially drawn to masks, figurative sculpture, textiles, as well as more utilitarian pieces. The collection ranges from several examples of masterful artistic expression to numerous pieces of tourist art. View video slideshows of items from the collection here.

Within the collections from the Americas, masks from Mexico are the most numerous and diverse with several representative examples from colonial-style festivals covering all the major geographic regions and cultural traditions. There are limited South American materials, including pieces from the Amazon such as a Tapirapé feather headdress. There are very few objects from Native North America. The African collections, sizeable in number, are sourced from mostly sub-Saharan cultures in West and Central Africa. The majority of African material consists of small, domestic objects, including ritual carvings, food service and preparation objects, and garments. There is a selection of larger architectural pieces such as carved doors, a house post, and wooden ladder. The Asia-Pacific collections consist of textiles from India and the indigenous peoples of Southeast Asia (Thailand, Laos, Burma, China, Vietnam). There is a variety of material from Indonesia, with fewer pieces from Papua New Guinea and Australia. 

The collection is housed on the fourth floor of Mundelein Hall. For-credit internship and research opportunities are available for students. Please direct research and information requests to Dr. Catherine Nichols, cnichols@luc.edu or 773.508.3469.