Pre-Colombian Art from the Thomas Miller Collection

Pre-Colombian Art from the Thomas Miller Collection
July 24, 2013 Robyn Buntin of Honolulu

Collector Thomas Miller holding one of his very first acquisitions, an Huancavilca Animal Effigy Bottle, purchased from NASA project manager Kocholati.

Archaeological sites and digs are no stranger to Thomas Miller, one of Hawaii’s leading collectors of artifacts and antiquities.  From the age of 9, when he laid his hands on his first Native American arrowhead, he began a journey of unearthing and collecting ancient artifacts from around the world.  His early childhood was spent in Kentucky, close to Fort Knox.  As a teenager, he befriended Walter Kocholati who was the project manager at NASA for the “monkeys in space”.  Kocholati had collected a number of Pre-Colombian artifacts and sculptures in Mexico in the 1940s and young Tom purchased a handful of objects from him.

This extremely large urn was brought home from the jungle in Ecuador by Tomin a private medical plane (along with his wife Roz who needed the medical attention at that time)

After his initial exposure to Native American and Pre-Colombian artifacts as a youngster, Tom’s passion for history and ancient relics continued to expand.  His career led him to the United States Navy and later to become an educator at Iolani School in Honolulu.  By participating in numerous archaeological projects with Iolani School and several Universities (Miller was Headmaster of Iolani from 1992 to 1995, and taught from 1995 to 2012), he continued his archaeological jaunts all over the world.  His experience in the field as well as in the library made him a formidable collector, able to discern the real McCoy from the forgeries because of his first-hand knowledge.  Over the years, he collected artwork for his own personal enjoyment and now that he has retired from education, many of his pieces will now become part of an endowment to Iolani School for students to have experience handling rare objects such as these, bringing history to life.

Selected pieces from Tom’s personal collection are now also being offered for sale through our gallery, Robyn Buntin of Honolulu.  It is our great pleasure and privilege to offer these works of art and artifacts for the collecting public.  We believe that in conjunction with museum collections, a healthy body of private collectors and items in the public marketplace are an integral driving force in the arts.  It is through passionate people like Tom that we are able to touch the past.


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