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Maxwell Museum of Anthropology

University & Ash N.E.
Albuquerque, New Mexico

Phone: 505-277-4404 --

Statement of Purpose:

Exploring the cultures of the world, with a special emphasis on the cultural heritage of the Southwest.

The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico is one of the nation's finest anthropology museums. It was founded in 1932 as the Museum of Anthropology at UNM, and became the first public museum in Albuquerque. In 1972 it was renamed the Maxwell in honor of Dorothy and Gilbert Maxwell, whose donation of funds that year made possible a major expansion of the museum.

Highlights & Collections:

The Maxwell is unique among New Mexico museums in that its broad mission encompasses the entire history of humankind and cultures throughout the world.

Reflecting this broad mission, the Maxwell has collections that are worldwide in scope, with extensive holdings from throughout the United States, the Arctic, Central and South America, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands.

The museum's strongest area of emphasis is on the native cultures of the Southwest, and is world-renowned for its holdings of artifacts from this region. Included in its Southwestern holdings are the materials excavated at Chaco Canyon since the early 1920s - making it the largest and most comprehensive archaeological research collection of Anasazi materials in existence.

The Maxwell is the only museum in New Mexico whose mission embraces the entire history of human beings on the earth and cultures throughout the world.

Reflecting its broad mission, the Maxwell holds substantial collections form throughout the United States, the Arctic, Mexico, Central and South America, Africa, India and Pakistan, Southeast Asia, New Guinea, Australia and Oceania. The entire collections exceed 2,500,000 pieces.

Throughout the years the Maxwell has sponsored numerous important archaeological excavations including those at Pottery Mound, the Galaz Ruin, the Chamisal Site and numerous sites in the Mimbres area of southwest New Mexico through its Mimbres Foundation.

The Maxwell's holdings include the material excavated in the Chaco Canyon area since the early 1920's and represent the largest and most comprehensive archaeological research collection of Anasazi materials in existence.

The museum's Photographic Artchive contains over 250,000 images documenting a century of anthropological research around the world. It is especially strong in the Southwest and contains many of the earliest photographs of Pueblo and Navajo taken in the late 19th century.

The museum has well over a hundred volunteers working as docents, archaeological and osteological researchers, collection assistants, exhibit curators and, most importantly, the board of Directors of the Maxwell Museum Association.

In the last two years alone the Maxwell's volunteer teachers have donated over 12,000 hours to the classroom teaching program and taught over 50,000 children as part of the Maxwell-Albuquerque Public Schools collaborative program.

In recent years the museum completed the renovation of its entire public gallery space. The permanent exhibit Ancestors documents four million years of human emergence and opened in January 1990. The museum's other permanent exhibit, People of the Southwest opened in November 1990 and documents 11,500 years of the human heritage of the Southwest. This exhibit represents the seventh highest National Endowment for the Humanities award for permanent exhibits given in the U.S. in the past three years.

The Maxwell Museum Store offers folk crafts and art from all indigenous New Mexico peoples as well as those of non-Western cultures worldwide.

Exhibits & Special Events:

The Maxwell's public gallery space houses two major permanent exhibitions.

People of the Southwest explores 11,000 years of the cultural heritage of the Southwest, highlighting major excavations and the archaeologists who directed them.

Ancestors takes visitors on a journey through 4 million years of human origins, introducing them to distant ancestors like "Lucy," Neandertal, and Homo habilis.

In its temporary exhibition spaces, the museum presents an array of traveling exhibits from other institutions, alternating with shows that draw from the Maxwell's own collections. These extensive collections include Southwestern materials; masks from Africa and New Guinea; Pakistani, Indian and Indonesian jewelry and textiles; tools and weapons; and musical instruments from around the world.

Three temporary exhibitions are currently on display at the Maxwell.

Pilgrimage to Chimayo: A Contemporary Portrait of a Living Tradition

(open through February 16) is a photo exhibit featuring the work of four outstanding New Mexico photographers.

Life on the Tundra:

The Paneak Chronicle highlights the traditional life of the Nunamuit people of north-interior Alaska and will be on display through March 9.

Monos de Cochiti: Historical Clay Figures

and Their Present Day Counterparts(continuing through June 1) features historical and contemporary clay figures from Cochiti Pueblo.

The museum offers a variety of public programs that highlight the diversity of cultures worldwide, including lectures, demonstrations, workshops, children's activities, and music and dance events. Its educational outreach program offers educational services and resources for schools and community groups, including docent-led classroom enrichment activities and thematic tours of the museum.

Through a vast array of exhibitions, publications, research initiatives, public programs, and outreach efforts to the public schools, the Maxwell brings to the residents of New Mexico and visitors to our area alike an opportunity to experience the richness of human lifeways in all their diverse expressions, providing a setting for both education and enjoyment unique in this state.

A final highlight of any visit to the museum is the Maxwell Museum Store. It features an outstanding array of jewelry, textiles, pottery, beadwork, folk art, music and fetish carvings and has one of the Southwest's largest selections of books on Native American and world cultures.

In the spring of 1996, the Maxwell opened a satellite location in Old Town at The San Felipe Plaza, 2031 Mountain Road. Whether at our new site or at our main UNM campus location along University Boulevard, we hope you'll visit soon and take advantage of the opportunity to explore the richness and diversity of the human cultural experience at the Maxwell Museum.


Admission & Directions:

UNM location: on University Blvd., just north of Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave. Old Town location: 2031 Mountain Rd. NW in the San Felipe Plaza.



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