As curator of anthropology, Dirk is responsible for the museum’s artifact collection and is involved in its temporary and permanent anthropology exhibits. Dirk is an expert in human cultures; he curates the Museum’s Hall of the Americas and specializes in native American cultures like the Aztec and Maya.

Native American Heritage Month

November is Native American Heritage Month. As the Houston Museum of Natural Science prepares its new permanent installation, the John P. McGovern Hall of the Americas, we want to make every month Native American Heritage month. One of the main thrusts in the new exhibit will be to raise up Indigenous voices, and let them […]

Remembering the Past: 13 August 1521

Every year, from September 15 through October 15, people celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States. Let us remember that this year, 2021, marks the 500th anniversary of the Fall of Tenochtitlan, the Mexica capital. A modern inscription marks that event. One could argue that this marked the beginning of Hispanic heritage in the […]

From the Curator: Ancestors Lurking in the Shadows

Science tracks down the presence of elusive early humans. In the Houston Museum of Natural Science’s display on human evolution, there is a backlit mural representing our family tree. It goes back to 55 million years ago, and takes us all the way up to today, showcasing modern humans and all of our living primate […]

From Our Collections: Lucy is in the Building

Those who are frequent visitors to the Morian Hall of Paleontology might have noticed that a familiar face has reappeared. The very last section of the exhibit hall now shows a life-sized version of a female Australopithecus afarensis. Not just any afarensis, mind you, but rather a fleshed-out model of the famous Lucy. One can […]

The First American Revolution of 1680

August 10 marks the anniversary of the Pueblo Revolt against the Spaniards. This took place in 1680 and resulted in the expulsion of the Spanish presence for a period of twelve years. The consequences of this revolt continue to today. New Mexico is home to nineteen Pueblos, all separate nations with their own government. They […]

From Our Collections: a Manangya katsina

Kachina dolls are familiar Native American museum objects. They appear in art galleries and anthropology exhibits alike, but they are often misrepresented, misidentified, and misunderstood. Even the term kachina leads to confusion; it is an Anglicized spelling of the Hopi word katsina (singular) or katsinam (plural). In the Hopi worldview, katsinam take on three different […]

From our Collections: Bee Mask from the Amazon

The anthropology holdings of the Houston Museum of Natural Science include an extensive collection of ethnographic materials from South America, to be precise, from the Amazon and Orinoco River basins. These basins cover an area of 2.5 million square miles (or roughly twice the size of India). This hot and humid environment is home to […]

From our Collections: Lakota Beaded Possible Bag

Among the Houston Museum of Natural Science’ collections of Plains Indian materials we find a Lakota beaded possible bag. The Lakota people are part of a confederation of seven related Sioux tribes, the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ or “Seven Council Fires.”  They are one of the Indigenous peoples of the Great Plains of North America. The Lakota […]

Maya Writing | How Ancient Texts Connect Us to People of the Past

When we survey the field of pre-Contact indigenous cultures in the Americas, the ancient Maya are by far the one we know the most about. Like other cultures, the Maya have left us a very rich archaeological record. We can excavate and investigate their cities; we can be awed by the extensive time depth of […]