The Field Museum's Mesoamerican and Central American collections include a wide-range of archaeological and ethnographic pieces, many of the highest exhibition quality. This collection also includes a number of collections of significant research value, including those from scientific excavations made by J. Eric Thompson, and the research collections gathered by several significant cultural anthropologists. Portions of the collection were previously loaned to the Guggenheim, the Royal Academy of Arts, the National Museum of Mexican Arts (Chicago), and the Art Institute of Chicago.
A Maya incense bowl and its contents that was dredged from the Cenote of Sacrifice at Chichen Itza was researched by a collaborative team interested in the production process that was used to fabricate the famous Maya Blue pigment. The results of this investigation were published in Antiquity in 2008. The resultant findings were judged the top archaeology discovery of 2008 by Archaeology magazine and one of the ten top scientific discoveries of that year by USA Today.