Our nine permanent feature exhibits are a contemporary, thematic exploration of peoples around the world from throughout history.
These exhibits connect to each other physically and thematically through the Central Core, which is a home to ideas essential to all of humanity. They are organized by geography and cover hundreds, sometimes thousands, of years of human history. Within each exhibit are thematic displays that continue topics from the Central Core and develop unique discussions important to particular cultures.
On the main floor are Indigenous North and South America and the Ancient Mediterranean. On the second floor are East Asia, Southeast Asia, Oceania, Europe, Africa, Ancient Mesopotamia, and Ancient Egypt.
The permanent exhibits are built out of the Museum’s own collections. These artifacts come from the Museum’s more than 100 years as part of the University of Illinois and reflect changing values and emphases in education. Some artifacts speak to seemingly timeless themes and areas of interest in the United States; others document not only their culture of origin but also the people and priorities that brought them to Urbana. Significant cultures in today’s world—India, Russia, and Central America, for example—were not sufficiently represented in the Museum’s collections to be incorporated as permanent exhibits at the time of the planning of the Spurlock in the late 1990s. Our changing exhibits in the Campbell Gallery and events help address the gaps in our permanent exhibits and collections.