Two women sit on a bench in a circular space, surrounded by glass cases filled with pottery in a gallery in Robert R. McCormick Halls of the Ancient Americas.

Robert R. McCormick Halls of the Ancient Americas

Category: Exhibitions

Exhibition Summary


Included with Basic admission

Targeted age groups

All ages


Anchor: #discover-how-ancient-cultures-intertwine-with-our-own

Discover how ancient cultures intertwine with our own.

Robert R. McCormick Halls of the Ancient Americas is a journey through 13,000 years of human ingenuity and achievement in the Western Hemisphere, where diverse societies thrived long before the arrival of Europeans.

Through interactive features, floor-to-ceiling displays, and thousands of artifacts, this immersive exhibition explores the ancient peoples of the Americas, from hunters and gatherers to the Aztec and Inca empires—and from the arrival of European settlers to the present day.

Discover what we’ve learned recently about these advanced early civilizations and what cultural practices teach us about our own way of life in the 21st century.

A family peers into an interactive display to learn about animals domesticated by Peru’s Andean societies.

Visitors explore a bird’s-eye view replica of Teotihuacan, the largest city in the Americas (and one of the largest in the world) between AD 100 and 700.

Take a closer look at artifacts that teach us how these past cultures lived.

Exhibition highlights:

  • A collection of hand-carved tools used by Ice Age hunters
  • 350 pieces of pottery from ancient pueblo societies
  • A full-sized (12 feet in diameter) replica of the Aztec Sun Stone
  • Gold, redstone, and greenstone luxury pieces from Colombia

Image slideshow

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Living descendants

Tens of millions of Indigenous people lived in the Americas when the first European explorers landed on its shores. But within a few hundred years, disease, slavery, and warfare had killed three out of every four of those Indigenous people—destroying many of their cultures in the process.

Still, Indigenous languages, histories, and cultural traditions have survived into the present day. The descendants of these past peoples continue to keep their histories and cultural traditions alive by sharing them with others.

The Ancient Americas exhibition and its related educational programs were co-curated with Indigenous and Latino advisors from throughout the Americas. These dedicated individuals provided mentorship and guidance throughout the course of this project.

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