Carl V. Hartman and the Costa Rica Collections
Carl Lumholtz


1890-1892 (and several months in 1893) Lumholtz Expedition to Mexico

Carl Lumholtz the Norwegian explorer led an expedition to the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico. The American Geographical Society of New York sponsors the expedition. Hartman, who had originally signed on as a botanist became responsible for the archaeological projects of the expedition while traveling with the group. Hartman was in charge of Expedition camps and conducting fieldwork. This marked the start of Hartman’s career change from botanist to anthropologist.

1893 World’s Colombian Exposition

The World's Columbian Exposition took place in Chicago, Illinois. The Exposition was a World's Fair in commemoration of Columbus' voyage 400 years prior but in practicality was an exhibition of American culture and values. Over 27 million people visited the fair and viewed exhibitions ranging from a machinery building showcasing the latest in modern machinery to an exhibit of live humans from around the world, each representing their culture and country. Hartman was employed for six months working on anthropology exhibitions at the fair. He most likely obtained the job through professional connections such as Lumholtz.

The Costa Rican collection being exhibited at the World's Columbian Exposition was largely headed by Anastasio Alfaro, the head of the National Museum of Costa Rica. Alfaro was responsible for representing his country and specifically his nation’s archaeological heritage at the Exposition. Hartman first met Alfaro and first observed Costa Rican artifacts at the Exposition. His job in Chicago was life-changing for Hartman since it exposed him to anthropological exhibition and reoriented his career toward the museum, the organization with which he would define his life's work.


1894 10th International Congress of Americanists

At this professional conference in Stockholm, Sweden, Hartman was able to present his first anthropological paper based on his own research in Mexico. He was able to make contact with influential persons in the emerging discipline of anthropology such as Alfaro, Peralta, Theil, and Stolpe. Hartman went on to attend four more conferences where his work would be well received and he would take on leadership roles within the organization by serving as the chair of scientific sessions, a member of council and eventually as Vice-President representing Sweden.

1896-1899 Swedish Central American Expedition

The Swedish Society for Anthropology and Geography as well as Åke Sjögren, a Swedish scientist interested in Costa Rican archaeology, sponsored an expedition to Costa Rica, Guatemala, and El Salvador. Hartman led this expedition by conducting ethnographic and linguistic studies and by amassing a great number of antiquities. Hartman subsequently published three ethnographic publications on the work he conducted.

1903-1908 Carnegie Museum Curatorship

Hartman used his experience from the World’s Colombian exposition in his curatorial duties for the Carnegie museum. Hartman was responsible for developing exhibitions, cataloging collections, and conducting research. In his position as curator Hartman received his first true museum experience and played an important role in educating the public in anthropology.

1903 Costa Rican Expedition

Hartman traveled to Costa Rica on his own expedition sponsored by the Carnegie Museum . He based his research out of the National Museum of Costa Rica in San José . He excavated archaeological sites in the Central Highlands and the Pacific Coast . Hartman developed the second exhibition of Costa Rican antiquities in the Carnegie Institute building and catalogued, photographed, and researched his Costa Rican collection. Hartman would go on to write a large monograph and several articles on the Costa Rican collection and present his findings in the US and abroad. Click here for a gallery of photos from the Costa Rican Expedition.
spacer spacer spacer spacer