The Williamson Museum is primarily an archaeological/ethnological museum. Its collection policy has focused on archaeological materials from northern and central Louisiana, and the museum serves as a state and federal repository for archaeological collections for the region. The ethnological collection efforts have concentrated on material from the eastern United States. The museum has an exceptional collection of southeastern tribal material.
The core of the archaeological collection is the extensive material donated by the late Dr. Clarence H. Webb of Shreveport, Louisiana. The artifacts in this collection formed the basis for Webb’s development of the prehistoric Caddoan archaeological sequence in Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. With approximately 300,000 catalogued lots, this collection is one of the most important in the southeastern U.S.
The ethnological collections, especially the extensive material donated by the late Claude Medford, Jr. of Natchitoches, Louisiana, include artifacts from forty-one southern and eastern Native American tribes and communities. These ethnological collections serve as a catalyst for student-Native American interaction. These materials are used as study collections not only by scholars, but also by tribal people interested in maintaining or revitalizing their traditions. Recently, a collection of baskets representing a wide variety of Native American tribes was donated by the Malmbergs.
At NSU, students are engaged not only in collection preservation and analysis, but also with administrative policy and the public. Students receive actual experience with both archaeological and ethnographic materials curation and conservation.
This event is held annually on the first Saturday in December. The Williamson Museum hosts Native American crafts people and artisans in a major sale-show. For over twenty years, this event has provided Louisiana Indians with a viable outlet to keep traditional crafts alive.