In addition to the collections, the Matson Museum supports the teaching, research, and outreach activities of the Department of Anthropology. The Museum educates our visitors about the rich diversity of contemporary and ancient human cultures, the history of human evolution, and scientific explanations for human cultural and biological variability.
Anthropological collections held by the Department of Anthropology were first put on display in the mid-1960s. The location of the museum shifted several times on campus until 1987 when the museum was moved into its present location in Carpenter Building. In honor of Dr. Frederick Matson, Professor Emeritus of the Department of Anthropology, the museum was renamed the Matson Museum of Anthropology in 1991. The museum benefits from the expertise of the anthropology faculty whose offices are in the same building, while the department enjoys the use of exhibits and collections for hands-on course activities.