When the Spanish arrived in the New World during the late 15th century, vibrant Native American civilizations were flourishing throughout North, Central, and South America. Huge empires — the Aztec based in the Valley of Mexico and the Inca from the highlands of Peru — had transformed ancient America and the Andean region into economically powerful nations ruled by massive and efficient governments.

We invite you to visit our Visible Vault exhibit to view a selection of unique objects displayed from among a collection of hundreds of other treasures produced by the ancient peoples of the Americas.

To give visitors a better sense of the Museum behind the scenes we’ve displayed the exhibit’s objects in a non-traditional way. For example, artifacts are protected for safekeeping as they would be in our actual storeroom. The exhibit hall also features dim, dramatic lighting so that the artifacts, which are largely ceremonial in nature, can be viewed today as they might have been in the past — within the confines of temples for instance.