US National Museum Receives Catlin Collection

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The Catlin Collection, consisting of over 600 Native American portraits and scenes painted by George Catlin, is presented to the United States National Museum by the widow of Mr. Joseph Harrison, Jr., of Philadelphia. Mr. Harrison had acquired the collection in 1852, when he advanced money to Catlin while the collection was exhibited in Europe, with the collection as security. Catlin was never able to redeem the collection, so it was transferred to Philadelphia, where it was stored for many years.


  • Catlin, George 1796-1872
  • Harrison, Joseph, Jr
  • Harrison, Mrs. Joseph, Jr
  • United States National Museum
  • Smithsonian Institution Bureau of American Ethnology
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.) Dept. of Anthropology
  • National Museum of Natural History (U.S.)
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum


Chronology of Smithsonian History


  • The Smithsonian Annual Report for 1879 on page 40 says that the donor is the estate of Thomas Harrison, but the correct name is Joseph Harrison, Jr.
  • Rathbun, Richard. The National Gallery of Art. Bulletin of the United States National Museum, Volume 70. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1909, p. 52.
  • Annual Report of the Smithsonian Institution for the Year 1879. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1880, pp. 40, 85.

Contact information

Institutional History Division, Smithsonian Institution Archives, 600 Maryland Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20024-2520,


May 15, 1879


  • Acquisitions
  • Art
  • Art, American
  • Accessions
  • Historians
  • Ethnology
  • Catlin Indian Gallery
  • Museums
  • Gifts
  • Anthropolgy
  • History
  • National Collections
  • Museums--Acquisitions
  • Art--History
  • Art objects
  • Indians of North America
  • Anthropological museums and collections


North America

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