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The ancient American holdings of 3,300 objects encompass nearly every culture of pre-Columbian Latin America, from Mexico to Argentina, and represents a wide range of chronological periods, with over a hundred pieces dating as early as the first millennium BCE.

The collection consists mainly of ceramics and painted pottery, but includes some examples of sculpture, painted wall fragments, textiles, gold and jade items, body ornaments, and a selection of musical instruments. Strongest in Mayan art, the museum also owns an impressive group of over 175 Peruvian textiles, several as early as 600-300 BCE, as well as early ceramics from Moche, Paracas and Nasca cultures in Peru.