Starting in the late 19th century, travelers, amateur scientists, businessmen, politicians, and later, professional archaeologists returned from Central America with never-before-seen artifacts. Many of these ceramic, stone, gold, and jade objects ended up in museums and many entered private collections. Regardless of their final destination, these early collections have helped, and continue to help, define a unique and unparalleled ancient history of Central America. This symposium delves into this history by looking at both early antiquarians and more recent scholarly approaches to collecting and understanding the past. It focuses on individuals, institutions, and the social and political factors that have impacted the collecting of objects from Belize and Guatemala in the north, down to Panama in the south. By extension, this conversation is also about understanding the history of archaeology, the history of museum building, and how we construct the past. Featured scholars include Dr. John Hoopes (University of Kansas), Dr. Francisco Corrales (National Museum of Costa Rica), Dr. Rosemary Joyce (University of California, Berkeley), Luis Sánchez (Department of Environmental Management, Costa Rican Institute of Electricity), Dr. James Snead (California State University Northridge), Dr. Elin Danien (University of Pennsylvania), and Dr. Alexander Benitez (George Mason University).