George Mitchelson Collection

George Mitchelson (1854-1932) was born, raised and farmed tobacco in Bloomfield, Connecticut. His interest in collecting Native American artifacts was sparked by surface finds he often made while walking the tobacco fields near his home. He was less drawn to the science of collecting and more toward the aesthetic quality of items. This passion spurred more than 20 trips to the west coast, where he stopped at Indian reservations throughout the country, collecting and purchasing a diverse array of Native American artifacts. Upon his death, his collection had grown to over 1,000 ethnographic and archaeological specimens, and was donated to the Connecticut State Library. The Mitchelson Collection was transferred to the State Museum of Natural History at UConn in 1996. Lacking strong provenience, it will most likely never serve as a true scientific collection, but many cultural institutions — most notably the National Museums of the American Indian, in New York City and Washington D.C. — have expanded the interpretation of their collections to explore Native American aesthetic traditions. In the spirit of Mitchelson’s original attraction to these artifacts, they continue to be of interest to Native and Academic scholars of the traditional arts of the New World and beyond.
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