Pre-Columbian Art

The Pre-Columbian collection at the Birmingham Museum of Art features about 500 objects primarily from ancient Mexico, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Panama, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru.  The term “Pre-Columbian” refers to the arrival of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus to the Americas in 1492, and has come to describe art produced by Native American cultures of Central and South America prior to European contact and colonization.  The collection represents all of the regions and major culture groups of Meso and South America, including Olmec, Maya, Zapotec, Aztec, Moche, Chimu, and Inca, among  many others. Highlights include a Zapotec urn, a Maya cylinder vase, a Jalisco tomb figure, a ceremonial tumi from the Sican culture, and a metate made of volcanic stone from Costa Rica.