This paper examines Edwin AtLee Barber's collecting practices in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries at the Pennsylvania Museum and the consequent formation of a canon of Pennsylvania German pottery. The resultant impact on popular and academic perceptions of Pennsylvania Germans and their pottery is of interest not only to scholars in this specific field but also to those who study the art of any cultural minority group and ultimately to the broader discourse of American art history and historiography. Through the consideration of this collection as an object and as an agent of cultural construction, this case study will uncover the relationships that exist between museum collecting and display and the formation of identity and Otherness. This study seeks to uncover the origins of the now well known collection of Pennsylvania German wares at the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the resultant emergence of a canon of Pennsylvania German pottery. Through an examination of archival material, the negotiations between Barber's collecting vision and the Museum's practical and intellectual guidance are explicated and the consequent identity construction is illuminated. I conclude this paper with an examination of Barber's use of exhibition design and object installation in order to understand the interactions that public audiences had with the collection. In the years following Barber's 1916 death, the PMA continued to think about innovative ways to acquire and display their extensive Pennsylvania German collection such that it became a venue for academic discourse in the fields of art history, material culture, and now ethnography and museum studies. This paper illuminates this particular collection while simultaneously posing the broader theoretical questions surrounding ethnographic collecting and the construction of cultural identity.