American Southwest Virtual Museum

Northern Arizona State University, the US Parks Service, and the Museum of Northern Arizona have collaborated to put together the American Southwest Virtual Museum (ASVM).  The ASVM is a “digital repository of photographs, maps, information and virtual tours of National Park Service units and museums across the [American] Southwest.”

American Southwest Virtual Museum website home page:

Of particular interest to readers of this blog are some of the “vessel rotations” contained on the site.

Users can virtually rotate 38 individual ceramic vessels as well as zoom in and out. The 38 vessels are representative samples of pottery from different cultures across the American Southwest. The photographic quality is outstanding, as are the individual pieces. Viewers use buttons at the bottom of each image page to control rotation, and to zoom in & out.

Leupp Black-on-white jar (Tusayan White Ware) at American Southwest Virtual Museum

This is great website presentation. I wish other museums would employ it! Great job to the folks involved in this project!

In addition to the vessel rotations, the site also offers “pottery guides” on 17 different types of pottery from the region, including photographs of sherds or entire pieces, information on the construction, firing, chemical make-up, surface finish, color, form and decoration of this ceramic style.

Start of Pottery Guide for Sacaton Red-on-buff pottery. American Southwest Virtual Museum.

In addition, there’s a gallery to identify design elements, motifs and pottery forms, referencing images of pottery sherds. I wish I had something like this available when I was young, camping in Southern Arizona. I remember seeing millions of pot sherds scattered across the ground in various campsites.

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