Welcome to the American Southwest Virtual Museum!

The American Southwest Museum is a digital repository of photographs, maps, information, and virtual tours of National Park Service units and museums across the Southwest.

This growing collection provides access to high-resolution images of archaeological materials and sites, natural resources, and historic photographs, as well as virtual visitor center and trail tours, interactive artifact displays, and fact sheets and overviews that enhance visitor experience in the Southwest’s National Parks and Monuments and provide researchers a rich database for exploration.

Featured exhibit  – Robinson Collection

The Ray Robinson Collection of Prehistoric Pottery from Arizona

Raymond RobinsonRaymond F. Robinson (1914-2016) was a geologist with a passion for archaeology. He worked in mining and exploration for ASARCO, Duval, Phelps Dodge, and other companies in Arizona and beyond. In the 1950s and 60s, Mr. Robinson excavated a number of adobe pueblo rooms in the Cork site, located a few miles north of Safford on a cotton farm, and at Elmer’s Farm nearby. Before his death at the age of 102, he turned over his collection to the Arizona State Museum (ASM). Researchers from ASM, Archaeology Southwest, and Northern Arizona University currently are exploring the collection to assess its considerable research value.

The Cork and Elmer’s Farm sites appear to date between about AD 1300 and 1450. The pottery assemblage shows a remarkable diversity of vessel form, style, color, and cultural affiliation. Archaeologists classify the culture of central Arizona in this time period as “Salado,” which resulted from a mix of local Hohokam populations with immigrants from Puebloan cultures to the north who moved south to escape the “Great Drought” of the Four Corners region in the late 1200s. The Salado culture does not correlate with a particular present-day Native American tribe, but Salado descendants most likely live among the Akimel O’odham, Tohono O’odham, Hopi, and Zuni.

–Patrick D. Lyons, Director, Arizona State Museum
–Kelley Hays-Gilpin, Professor and Chair of Anthropology, Northern Arizona University

Learn more…

Select from the thumbnails above to learn more about the individual vessels in the collection.

The jars, pitchers, and bowl highlighted above are only a fraction of the collection, which includes dozens of vessels and more than 150 boxes of artifacts. As researchers continue to work on the collection, the vessels and artifacts will be analyzed in greater detail, adding immensely to the descriptions currently provided here.

The Virtual Museum is tailored to a wide range of audiences, including visitors, students, teachers, and researchers, and has a multitude of potential paths to explore, whether you have a topic in mind or are casually browsing.  The interactive map and links below provide topic and randomized starting points for exploration of the site.

Header Image: View of the Canyon from within Betatakin, Navajo National Monument, by Reese Cook, Northern Arizona University Anthropology Laboratories, 2010.