The exhibits showcase objects from the Ayer Collection, a 2,200-piece collection of Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe arts and crafts objects that ethnomusicologist Thomas Vennum described as "one of the richest tribal treasures in the country." The collection includes tools and equipment used for traditional Ojibwe subsistence and recreational activities, bandolier bags, moccasins, birch bark baskets, dolls, beaded belts and a variety of other items that were aquired by the Ayers during their lifetimes. Additional items are stored in a climate-controlled secure storage area at the museum. The museum's collections can be viewed by apportment and are also used as research material for artists, scholars and educators.
Read more about the Ayer collection in "Ojibway Beadwork Traditions in the Ayer Collections" (PDF) by Marcia G. Anderson and Kathy L. Hussey-Arntson, Minnesota History, Winter, 1982. p153-157.
The museum also houses the American Indian Research (AIR) Library that is open to the public for research about the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and other bands and tribes in Minnesota as well as general materials about tribes across the Americas. The AIR Library has one of the largest collections of American Indian content in the Midwest, including more than 4,000 books, thousands of newspaper and magazine articles, and an extensive collection of photographs, videos, films, maps, posters, postcards, brochures, pamphlets, language and music recordings, and tribal, regional and national newspapers.
For more information on the MNHS collection of Ojibwe content, visit the historical resources page.