The Gabel Museum is a resource for students and faculty at Boston University and is not regularly open to the public. Its purpose is to provide materials for teaching and research and to give interested BU students the opportunity for hands-on experience with a museum collection. The museum is a one-room facility used for classes, events, and study as well as for the storage, conservation and display of the collection; there is also some storage space elsewhere in the building. In addition to the lighted and glass-fronted cabinets in the room, there are six display cases in the Archaeology Program hallways which are used for museum exhibits.
The collection comprises artifacts from North, Central and South America, Asia, Europe, and Africa and date from prehistoric to modern times. There are also artifact replicas and hominin skull casts. The heart of the museum holdings is Professor Creighton Gabel’s collection of stone tools, metal artifacts, and pottery from his fieldwork in Africa. Other former faculty members have also donated study collections acquired during their archaeological work abroad (such as in Greece or Belize). A varied collection of mostly Native American cultural materials was given to Boston University in 1936 by Charles Mitchell of Needham, Massachusetts and is now largely housed in the museum. Other donations have come from the Archaeological Institute of America and the Beloit College Logan Museum as well as from some former Boston University students. Finally, there are artifacts on loan from two Boston University entities: the Department of the History of Art and Architecture and the School of Theology Library.