The Gordon L. Grosscup Museum of Anthropology at Wayne State University has been a training ground for students and area residents interested in local history and archaeology for a generation. Founded in 1959 by Dr. Arnold Pilling, the Museum has long been a center for local archaeological research. In 2010, the Museum was re-named the Grosscup Museum of Anthropology in honor of its first Curator, Professor Emeritus, Dr. Gordon L. Grosscup. From 1995 to 2016, the Director of the museum has been Dr. Tamara L. Bray. She is also a Professor of Anthropology at Wayne State University and an archaeologist with research interests in both North and South American prehistory. The current Director of the museum is Dr. Megan McCullen.

In 1997, the Museum moved to its beautiful new location on the first floor of the historic Old Main building. Old Main, constructed in 1896, is the oldest building on the Wayne State campus. It underwent complete renovation in the mid-1990s and was reopened to the public on the occasion of its 100th anniversary.



The Museum's collections consist of archaeological, ethnographic, and contemporary modern materials. The majority of the Museum's holding pertain to North America, with an emphasis on Michigan. Other geographical regions represented in the collections include Africa, Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, Asia, and Oceania.

The Museum's strongest collections emphasis is in local historical and archaeological materials. The majority of these collections have been gathered through archaeological investigation and WSU student field schools over the past 50 years. 

Using collections, students learn about standard museum cataloguing and proper curation practices. There are significant research opportunities available to students interested in working with the museum's vast collections and materials.


Archaeology Lab


The Archaeology Lab is outfitted with binocular and polarizing microscopes, thin-sectioning equipment and a kiln for ceramic analyses, photographic and reproduction equipment, computers and scanner, and surveying, mapping, and drafting equipment and software.





      Volunteer Don is seen here working to create high contrast images of a printing plate.

PATT (photo artifact turntable)- a device built here at WSU to generate PTMs (polynomial texture maps, HP Labs). PATT takes 40 photographs of an object with the light source coming from 40 different positions to create very high contrast images of details that may otherwise be obscured. 

Left image: printing plate image taken with PATT that revealed written inscriptions.




Diffused-light photography box used to shoot artifacts with reflective surfaces such as glass, metal, and historic ceramics to reduce glare. 






Kiln used for experimentation on clay types and firing techniques.  







Thin-sectioning Saw used for taking thin and precise sections of ceramics and clays for compositional analysis using a microscope.




GIS (Geographic Information Systems) is a computer program outfitted on our lab computers. This program allows for capturing, storing, checking, and displaying data related to the Earth's surface. We use this program to map archaeological sites and surrounding features. 






Stereomicroscope used for close up analysis of archaeological material.








Printrbot 3D Printer and NextEngine 3D Scanner used for scanning and printing diagnostic artifacts for analysis, teaching, and comparative research. 







Pictured right is a human femur in 1/4th scale. This printed bone will assist archaeologists in analyzing our vast osteological collections. 





 Anthropology Library

The Anthropology library has a substantial collection of books on Michigan history, general archaeology, and Latin America; various series' of local and trade journals; and a collection of anthropology-related videos.






Manuscript Archives

The archives contain site files pertaining to Michigan archaeology; some historic maps; records and notes of local collectors; and files on local history.


  Typical Archaeological Site Survey          Excavation Photo in Archives                    Map of Detroit, 1968


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