The Jan Mitchell Treasury contains part of the Museum's holdings of Precolumbian art, including The Nathan Cummings Collection of Precolumbian Art, which represent a large area of the two great American continents that reaches from Mexico south through Peru. The collection covers a 3,500-year period that began at about 3000 B.C.E. and ended with the arrival of the Spanish in the early sixteenth century C.E. Works on view are displayed in three separate sections within two galleries—South American art, Precolumbian gold (both in this gallery), and Mesoamerican art (Gallery 358).
South American Art
Art in South America began as early as the third millennium B.C.E. in communities along the northern reaches of the Pacific Coast. Many of the communities went on to thrive and grow, culminating in the fifteenth-century rise of the Inka Empire, which incorporated almost all of the Andean region. This section of the gallery displays works of art in various media and representing distinctive styles, including ceramics, woven textiles, and more.
Precolumbian Gold Treasury
The Jan Mitchell Treasury for Precolumbian Works of Art in Gold holds a representative display of ancient American gold. Its contents come from all of the gold-working regions in the Americas, from Peru in South America to Mexico in North America, and date from the late centuries B.C.E. until the fifteenth century C.E. The primary, but not exclusive, use for precious metals in ancient times was as personal ornaments. Diadems and crowns for the heads, necklaces and pectorals for the chest, and ornaments for the ears are salient among them. The privilege of wearing gold was reserved for persons of high rank or for the gods they revered.