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Waldegg Pottery Collection

Waldegg Collection



The Waldegg collection came to Temple from Boston College sometime before 1966. Boston College had intended to set up a museum, and this collection was to be a part of it, however, that museum did not come into existence and the collection arrived here. Unfortunately, they came with little to no documentation, such as field notes or collections notes. Attempts were made to get personal field notes from Waldegg’s children and grandchildren, but they had no interest in cooperating.


The collection includes three different parts, all of which are thought to come from the San Agustin region of Columbia. The first part is the pottery, which is also the most potentially problematic. Waldegg was accused by the Columbian government of illegally exporting archaeological material in the 1930s. Most of this accusation seems to have been inaccurate, likely resulting from a miscommunication, including stone monuments and “gold and riches” (which almost certainly did not exist). This pottery is the only possible match between the actual material that Waldegg had and the accusation from the Columbian government. Waldegg claims to have bought much of it from individuals who were using it in their homes. Someday when other, more urgent repatriation issues have been addressed, it will be determined whether these artifacts need to be returned to Columbia.


The second part is the ethnographic collection, which includes material collected from living people, again, thought to be from from the San Agustin region. These include some items referred to as “natural history”, such as monkey pelts and turtle shells. It is unknown why these were collected or if they had a connection to people.


The third—and most unusual—section of the collection includes casts of statues from what is now San Agustin Archaeological Park. These statues are fascinating and important, and it appears that Waldegg made plaster casts of them which were later (by him or someone else) cut into pieces for transport. Unfortunately, there is no key to put them back together.


To learn more, explore our current exhibits:



Highlighting the most influential aspects of  the birthplace of America

Inquirer; Hospital delivers bodies to Ph


This exhibit examines past Philadelphia epidemics to see what they can tell us about the response to COVID-19 

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