Collections & Archaeology at Plimoth Plantation
Plimoth Plantation has a small but rich collection of original artifacts that show daily life between 1550 and 1700. The artifacts come from places such as New England, Great Britain and the Netherlands, and represent the material culture that the Pilgrims and Wampanoag would have known. Museum researchers and artisans use the artifacts to help re-create the living history exhibits guests see at Plimoth Plantation.
Unlike more traditional museums, Plimoth Plantation does not collect original objects strictly for exhibition. Instead, we collect information to re-create everyday life in the 17th century. Information about the past comes from:
- Original collections
- Re-created historic technologies
- Images and pictures
- Oral history
An object does not need to be “museum quality” to provide information about the past. Plimoth Plantation’s collections include both whole artifacts as well as pieces dug from the ground. Our objects are divided into four categories:
Many of the Museum's finest artifacts are held in its varied archaeological collections. Plimoth Plantation founder Harry Hornblower II was an avid amateur archaeologist. His interest in archaeology started in the 1930s, when, as a teenager, he accompanied Jesse Brewer on field trips to look at local Wampanoag sites in southeastern Massachusetts. Brewer was an amateur archaeologist and gardener for the Hornblower estate in Plymouth. Together, Jesse Brewer, Harry and his brother Ralph visited archaeological sites ranging from Scituate to Martha's Vineyard and gathered a significant collection of Wampanoag artifacts. Today Plimoth Plantation owns these collections, which are used in exhibits and as examples for tools and pottery re-created at the Wampanoag Homesite.
Today Plimoth Plantation serves as a state-recognized curation site for local archaeology from all over southeastern Massachusetts. Artifacts are used for study, reproduction and exhibition.