Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Albuquerque

#14 of 17 in Museums in Albuquerque
Specialty Museum · Hidden Gem · Museum
Current Exhibits:

-Mexico at the Hour of Combat

-Evidence and Theory

-People of the Southwest


On Display in the Maxwell Courtyard:

- A 46' totem pole made in approx. 1910, from the Kwakiutl village of Karlukwee on Turnor Island, British Columbia

- An horno (beehive oven)

- A spiral herb garden


The mission of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology is to increase knowledge and understanding of the human cultural experience across space and time. The museum serves this mission by collecting, maintaining, researching, and interpreting anthropological materials. The mission statement is based on recognition that material objects, as manifestations of the practical and symbolic lives of human groups, represent a tangible and irreplaceable source of information for the study of human behavior. The museum supports and complements the University's functions of education and research, and, in addition, provides educational opportunities to the public outside of the University community.

Brief History:

Formally founded in 1932, the Maxwell was for some time Albuquerque's first and only museum. The museum began as an informally curated archaeological collection derived from University excavations. The first Anthropology department chair, Edgar L. Hewitt, began the School of American Research/University of New Mexico field school investigations in 1929. This effort marked the first time local institutions took a lead in Chaco Canyon archaeology. Incidentally, Hewitt was instrumental in pushing through the National Antiquities Act, which sought to put material culture under federal protection.

In 1932, the Anthropology Department officially founded a "museum" in Scholes Hall. Subsequently, Dr. Frank Hibben, the first museum director, began an active acquisition program. He obtained many ethnographic and archaeological collections from North and South America as well as the "Old World". This world-oriented collection policy continues into the present, although we cannot collect as actively as before due to space and financial constraints.

The Maxwell, while retaining links to the Anthropology Department, is currently a distinct UNM department under the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Free & Open to All (Donations are welcome)
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Maxwell Museum of Anthropology reviews

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TripAdvisor traveler rating 4.5
48 reviews
  • This was my first stop on a recent trip to New Mexico, and it served as an excellent introduction to the cultural history of the area. It's a small museum, but the displays are very in-depth and...  more »
  • Maxwell Museum is located in the University of New Mexico. Patrons get to see wolf skins, Pueblo lifestyle, pottery, ancient tools, jewelries, etc. Worth it.  more »
  • Now this is a wonderful experience for young and old. I love history and this was full of information and exhibits for all to enjoy. Great art and photos everywhere you turn. A really great way to show your children and all who attend our lovely Southwest area.
  • Really like the Maxwell! Have visited several times. Small enough to be manageable but comprehensive on NM archaeology. Pots galore. Free admission helps. Nice items in gift shop from local artists.

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