One of the collection's many strengths is the Congo River region. American Anthropologist Frederick Starr joined the missionary/explorer Samuel Verner on a collecting expedition to the Congo from 1905-1906. He collected nearly 5,000 artifacts including musical instruments, shields, baskets, masks, stools and games that have become part of the Museum's collection of material culture from the Congo region.
During the American Museum's Congo Expedition (1909-1915), mammalogist Herbert Lang and ornithologist James Chapin collected over 4,500 objects, including carvings made of wood and ivory, incised gourds, bark cloth, metalworking and musical instruments, primarily from the Mangbetu and Azande peoples.
Recently acquired objects include earplugs made by the Zulu people of southern Africa and beadwork made by the Maasai people of eastern Africa.