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Our comprehensive collection includes more than 3,000 artifacts from more than 70 countries across six continents.



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Every year I go to the library and learn something new.
– Martin G., Student
Audubon Middle School




Artifacts for Natural Resources, Trade, and Colonization

The Commercial Connections display and presentation invites students to explore how centuries of world trade have created today’s global community. CCMM shows how people everywhere satisfy their needs first with objects made with their own indigenous materials, and then with objects made from materials disseminated to them from other areas through conquest and trade. Students learn about need for natural resources leading to the exchange, not only of goods and materials, but also ideas.


Through non-English books, magazines, and news, students “read” in various foreign languages.

  • Newspapers from Asia, Central America, Europe, and Middle East
  • Books from Africa, Asia, Central America, and Europe
  • Writing implements from Asia and Middle East
  • Rosetta Stone reproduction


The origins of beer, wine, alcohol, tea, coffee, chocolate, and Coca-Cola are explored, as well as how these drinks affected world history.

  • Beer bottles or cups from Africa (e.g. Zulu ukhamba pot), Asia (e.g. Japanese sake pitcher), Central America (e.g. Salvadoran chicha jug), Europe (e.g. German stein cup), and South America (e.g. Peruvian chicha jug)
  • Wine bottles or cups from Africa (e.g. Congolese date wine cup), Asia (e.g. Chinese you wine container), and Europe (e.g. Greek kylix cup)
  • Tea pots or cups from Africa (e.g. Moroccan tea pot), Asia (e.g. Japanese kama pot), and Europe (e.g. Russian samovar pot)
  • Coffee pots or cups from Africa (e.g. Ethiopian jebena pot), Asia (e.g. Vietnamese coffee pot), Central America (e.g. Costa Rican chorreador), Europe (e.g. Greek briki cup), Middle East (e.g. Turkish cezve pot), North America (e.g. Mexican cafetera pot), and South America (e.g. Brazilian coffee bean bag)
  • Chocolate stirrers and pots from North America and Europe
  • Mate bombilla straws and guampagourds from South America
  • Gourds from Africa, Central America, North America, and South America


Through the identification of artifacts made from different materials, students note whether the materials are native to their country of production or whether they had to be imported.

  • Fabrics from Africa (e.g. kente, kuba, bogolan), Asia (e.g. silks), Central America (e.g. woven cotton), Europe (e.g. linen lace, tapestry, woven wool), Northern America (e.g. quilted cotton), and South America (e.g. woven wool)
  • Wood objects from Africa (e.g. Tanzanian carved bowl), Asia (e.g. Cambodian temple dancer figure), Central America (e.g. Guatemalan box), Europe (e.g. German cuckoo clock), Middle East (e.g. Israeli candle holders), North America (e.g. Mexican Oaxacan alebrije), and South America (e.g. Peruvian nativity scene boxes)
  • Clay cooking utensils from Africa (e.g. Moroccan tajine), Asia (e.g. Chinese cooking pot), Central America (e.g. Salvadoran comal), and South America (e.g. Chilean stew pot)
  • Basketry from Africa, Asia, Central America, and North America


By closely examining international currencies, students learn how foreign languages, whether introduced by trade or conquest, replace or accompany indigenous languages on the money.

  • Banknotes from around the world
  • Currencies from Africa (metal, cloth, and shells) and North America (shells)


Students get hands-on experience as they grind, taste, and smell the spices that launched a thousand ships to seek them out during the European Age of Exploration.

  • Mortar and pestles, storage containers, and spices from Asia, Central America, North America, and South America


Connecting Cultures Mobile Museum encourages student participation and enhances student learning by providing students with worksheets to be completed during each presentation. As an incentive, students who complete the worksheet receive a foreign coin.

Click here to learn more about the corresponding California Department of Education Content Standards for Commercial Connections.

Do you have an object for our collections? Learn how to donate an object here.

You can also explore our collection by country of origin on our old site.