About the Collection
This exhibition features a portion of the important collection of Himalayan and South Asian objects made by Walter Norman Koelz in his travels in the region in the 1930s and 1940s. Koelz, a University of Michigan naturalist and native of Waterloo, Michigan, made his first trip to the Himalayas in 1932. He was sent there by the University of Michigan to collect biological specimens and material culture for the University's Museums of Zoology and Anthropology. This two-year venture was the first of several extended trips that he took to the region, and it was this trip that generated most of the objects on view in this exhibition. During his travels, Koelz acquired objects from monasteries, antiques dealers, and itinerant merchants. The result is a remarkable and well-documented collection of western Himalayan religious art and sacred and secular material culture.
Here we present a subset of the nearly 600 objects in the Museum of Anthropology Koelz Collection, including: intricate tapestry weave shawls made in Kashmir; the important collection of Western Himalayan tangka paintings; a group of metal (brass, copper, silver) ga'u or Buddhist amulet boxes; and an array of wooden objects, including bread molds, printing blocks, seals and stamps, among others.