The Ancient Americas Press Release

Step into the world of Ice Age mammoth hunters. Walk through a replica of an 800-year old pueblo dwelling and imagine your entire family cooking, eating and sleeping in one small room. Explore the Aztec Empire and its island capital Tenochtitlan, a city of more that 200,000 people and an extraordinary feat of engineering for any era. Do all this and more at The Ancient Americas exhibition at The Field Museum.

The Ancient Americas is an exploration of the challenges that human beings everywhere have faced for millennia. It’s a journey through 13,000 years of cultural evolution in the Western Hemisphere, where hundreds of diverse societies thrived long before the arrival of Europeans. Telling the epic story of human life on the American continents, the exhibition covers the arrival of small groups of hunter-gatherers, to the great – but fragile – empires of the Aztecs and Incas.

Based on ground-breaking research by Field Museum scientists and others, The Ancient Americas shatters long-held preconceptions. Visitors discover the intelligence, creativity, and innovations that allowed groups to diversify and populate the hemisphere.

The stories of The Ancient Americas are told through captivating displays and activities, with something for visitors of all ages and levels of interest. Visitors begin their journey in the world of Ice Age mammoth hunters in Chicago circa 11,000 BC, survey the monumental earthworks of mound-building peoples, and explore the great cities of Tenochtitlan and Cuzco, capitals of the Aztec and Inca empires. Interactive maps, dioramas, videos and computer activities specially created for the exhibition allow visitors to follow Field Museum archaeologists into the field. Each major gallery of The Ancient Americas also has a special section to excite the imagination of children and spark conversation among family members by prompting them to place themselves within the ancient cultures.

The heart of The Ancient Americas exhibition is built on The Field Museum’s unsurpassed archaeological collections. On display are more than 200 ceramic vessels from the Museum’s world-famous Peruvian collections, hundreds of luxury and spiritual items from our comprehensive Hopewell collection, 200 of the scarce gold objects left after conquistadores raided Colombia of its treasures, and much more.

In the final gallery, today’s native peoples tell their own stories on large video screens. The videos show contemporary communities and their connections to the past, the new traditions they’re bringing into the future, and the diverse lives they live in every corner of the Western Hemisphere.


The Ancient Americas is made possible by the McCormick Foundation.