Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

300 Tower Street, Bristol, RI, 02809
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Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology

The Museum originated with the private collection of Rudolf F. Haffenreffer, who founded the King Philip Museum in the early 20th century. It remains where Haffenreffer built it, on the Mount Hope Grant in Bristol RI, the former headquarters of Metacom, or King Philip, a 17th-century Wampanoag sachem. When the Museum opened to the public, its collections focused on local archaeological materials, but soon expanded to include much of North America. Today, the Museum houses artifacts and treasures from the Americas, Africa, Asia and Oceania.

During its 80 year history, the Museum has been a valuable cultural resource for its New England audience, as well as the Brown University community and scholars of anthropology, archaeology, art, and history. The three galleries of the museum present the native arts and material culture of the Canadian and Alaskan North, Southeast, Great Lakes, Plains, Northwest Coast, California, Southwest, southern New England, and Mesoamerica.


  • The Mission of the Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology is to educate Brown University students and the general public, through anthropological research on humankind, about cultural differences and human similarities, and to serve its constituencies with excellence:
  • By teaching undergraduate and graduate students through museum- and collections-based courses and research projects, and in degree-granting programs; and by educating students and the entire public through programs, lectures, exhibits, publications, and other means.
  • By exhibiting collections at the museum and interpreting cultures for the museum's publics.
  • By conducting and publishing research on collections which are the raw data for creative thought in anthropology and other fields; and by making collections available for research and loans.
  • By acquiring archaeological and ethnological collections through fieldwork, gift or purchase, which will enhance the museum's value for research and teaching; by setting priorities for acquisitions; by upholding appropriate conventions, resolutions, and laws on cultural property; by ensuring that new collections can be responsibly conserved and stored; by establishing policy for deaccessions; and by reserving proceeds from any deaccessions for strengthening collections.
  • By preserving artifactual and archival collections, the irreplaceable human cultural heritage, in a manner consistent with respect for traditions of their makers; and by conserving all collections in secure, ample storage facilities and according to established professional practices in conservation, fulfilling thereby the commitment of the university/museum to the public trust, to museological practice and ethics, and to the museum's donors.

Academic Programs

The Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University , is a university teaching museum with collections of over 100,000 ethnographic and archaeological artifacts and active public exhibitions and education programs. A central feature of the museum's mission is to instruct students at all levels in courses as well as through activities enhancing the value of its collections by responsible, careful field-documented collecting.

For more than forty years the Haffenreffer Museum has had integral intellectual ties to Brown University 's Department of Anthropology. Today students, undergraduate and graduate, can enroll in Museum-based courses listed in the Department of Anthropology curriculum , while an MA program in Anthropology-Museum Studies, offered through the Department of Anthropology, combines the core features of the MA in anthropology with three specialized seminars and a museum-related research paper. This degree program is designed for students who wish to take advantage of close ties between the Department of Anthropology and the Haffenreffer Museum and to develop museum-related employment opportunities. The program is normally completed in two years of residence.