Considered one of founders of modern American anthropology, Franz Boas promoted the ideas of cultural relativism - the belief that cultural traits were contextual and all equally valid - and historical particularism - the belief that each culture has a unique history that cannot be generalized.

Portrait of Franz Boas in 1895 demonstrating a Kwakiutl dance.
He was a professor at Columbia from 1896 into the 1930s and worked for the American Museum of Natural History from 1895-1905, during which time the Museum assisted Fred Muschenheim in the formation of the American Indian Hall.