The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque is the oldest public museum in the area and features a collection of over one million artifacts that are displayed through permanent and temporary exhibits. Admission is always free at Maxwell Museum.
The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology was established in 1932 as the first public museum in Albuquerque. First named Museum of Anthropology of the University of New Mexico, the museum received a name change in 1973 when Dorothy and Gilbert Maxwell donated the funds to make a large expansion possible. That same year, Maxwell Museum was accredited by the American Association of Museums.
The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology is a comprehensive center for cultural and public education, with two research institutes and a collection of over one million artifacts spanning the world and representing 2.5 million years of human history. The museum is a leader amongst anthropology museums based in Universities and plays a major role in preserving important archaeological sites in New Mexico while striving to enhance the curriculums of public schools in the region.
Maxwell Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10am-4pm and closed on all major holidays. The museum is fully ADA compliant and accessible for those with mobility and disability issues. Special accommodations can be made for individuals needing assistance with one week notice.
Collections and Exhibits
The one million artifact collection at Maxwell Museum is divided into four distinct collections—Archaeology, Ethnology, Osteology, and the archives. There are extensive artifacts from the Americas, Africa, Asia, Australia and the Pacific Islands with emphasis on the American Southwest and New Mexico region.
There are many temporary and traveling exhibits throughout the year that reflect current culturally significant events. These exhibits are detailed on the Maxwell Museum website and are subject to change frequently. Many of the exhibits in the collections are also viewable online.
Permanent exhibits include:
Ancestors- This exhibit explores how modern humans came to be and why they are the most successful biologically. Taking visitors on a journey through the evolutionary process, Ancestors studies the past 4 million years of human history and the development of language, tool use, and how homo sapiens developed from the earliest humans—A. africanus.
People of the Southwest- Visitors will learn about the people who lived in the American southwest and the cultural developments in the area over the last 12,000 years. Learn about the first southwestern inhabitants who were descendants of Asian immigrants and look at the prehistoric objects that were part of the Casas Grandes, Rio Grande, Mimbres, and Cibola settlements. This exhibit also reflects the close ties that the people of the Southwest had to the land and environment.
There are many ways to learn more about the Museum and history of the Southwest and humans in addition to self-guided tours of the museum. Many of the educational programs do require registration fees and reservations.
Traveling Trunk Programs- For schools and community groups that cannot visit the Maxwell Museum, trained docents are able to bring the Museum offsite through this program that focuses on Southwestern archaeology, Biological Anthropology, and world cultures.
Check out Kits- These kits are available for educators on a biweekly basis and are available in a variety of themes from agriculture of the southwest, China, weaving, Southwest geology treasure boxes, immigration across the Bering Strait and many more.
Field Trips- Docent lead tours of the museum are great for school and community groups that want to get an in depth understanding of a specific area of human history. Tours require a very small fee and are limited to 30 participants in each group. Most of the tours are recommended for all ages with 3 themes to choose from.
Summer Camps- Each summer the Maxwell Museum offers summer camps for children ages 7-12. Camps are themed and do require registration and fees. Details on camp offerings can be found annually on the museum website.
Museum Studies Program- This specialized program is for students pursuing a degree in museology or related fields. Programs are available to university students who are pursuing an undergraduate or master’s degree and seeks to prepare students for careers as museum educators, exhibit curators, and administration. Many University of New Mexico students are employed through assistantships, fellowships, and work study programs at the Maxwell Museum.
The Maxwell Museum store is available online and ships only to United States addresses. The store features carvings, folk art, rugs, jewelry, pottery, clothing, and books that are significant or representative of human anthropology and specifically the southwestern United States.
500 University Ave, NE, Building 11, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 87131, website, Phone: 505-277-3700