Website Review

Logan Museum of Anthropology

Beloit College

The Logan Museum Digital Collection is an effort by Beloit College’s Logan Museum to make its sizeable collections available online – this being an impressive feat indeed, given that the museum currently has “over 300,000 archaeological and ethnographic objects from 123 countries”.

To date, five collections have been digitised, these being: the Ainu collection, which consists of various Ainu tools, artworks, clothing, and religious objects; the Albert Green Heath Collection, which is primarily focused on Native American objects; the Bartlett Collection, which contains items from various sites and peoples; the Franco-American Logan Saharan Expedition Collection, which houses objects from the Tuareg and other Berber people of Algeria; and finally, the Bristol Collection, which consists mainly of indigenous Oaxacan textiles.

It is worth noting that the Bristol Collection, in particular, has the benefit of a Finding Aid page where users can access additional information about the collection and also download a number of appendices that can assist in navigating its contents. Given the usefulness of the Finding Aid and the sheer size of each collection, it would have been good to see one for each collection, but unfortunately those might still be a work in progress at time of writing.

In terms of user experience, the site is a relatively simple one that is incredibly straightforward to use. Each individual collection has been provided with a short write-up that outlines its background and contents, while underneath that, a dedicated link takes users to the contents of the collection itself. Inside the collection (which is actually just a pre-filtered version of Beloit College’s main digital collections), users can further filter via People/Culture, Area, Country, and Locality. Users can also search through the Museum’s (or even the entire College’s) holdings via the search-bar at the top right hand corner of the screen. While there isn’t a clickable option for searching within one of the Museum’s collections, users should still be able to do so simply by including the name of the collection alongside the search term e.g. ‘Bristol Collection bag’

Item entries are equally straightforward and generally consist of an image of the item, followed by a brief description and other pertinent details. A particular highlight is information on the item’s collection history, which might sometimes note who obtained it, where, and when.

While no teaching plans exist for this site, educators should find plenty of content here for classroom use and discussion. The Bristol Collection and its related notebooks (accessed via the Finding Aid), for instance, can be used to guide discussions about how ethnographic items make their way into museums, while students can also be asked to peruse the other collections and interrogate why particular items have been included. For a fun activity, students can also ‘curate’ their own digital collection from particular decades/cultures and present them to the class.

In summary, the Logan Museum Digital Collection is an excellent, no-nonsense digital repository for a variety of ethnographic and archaeological objects. While more Finding Aids and background information on each collection would have been a welcome addition, the interface is still simple enough for users to bring up relevant materials on their own. With almost 5000 items digitised at the moment and more to come in the near future, this will definitely be a useful site to keep an eye on.

Reviewed by Joanna Lee, Monash University

How to Cite This Source

"Logan Museum of Anthropology ," in in World History Commons, https://worldhistorycommons.org/logan-museum-anthropology [accessed January 18, 2022]
Image of a bird formed from blue, green, and red beads.
“With almost 5000 items digitised at the moment and more to come in the near future, this will definitely be a useful site to keep an eye on. ”