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Throwback Thursday: Maxwell Exhibitions--Legacy of a Leader

Maxwell History

In the nearly 50 years since the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology has been in its present location, the Museum has hosted approximately 150 temporary exhibitions. Over the next few weeks, we will look back at some of them.


Curated by historian Cindy Secor-Welsh, the Maxwell’s exhibition Legacy of a Leader: Miguel Antonio Otero, Territorial Governor explored “the life, career and time of New Mexico’s only Hispanic territorial governor,” who served from 1897 to 1906.  The exhibition opened in  February 1989, as part of campus-wide celebrations of the centennial of the University of New Mexico. It presented a chronological look at Otero’s  (1859-1944) remarkable life and political career in the broader context of New Mexico history. Among the topics addressed were included his involvement in the growth of UNM, his advocacy for New Mexican statehood (including overseeing the New Mexico display at the 1904 St Louis World’s Fair), and his post-political career as the author of popular autobiographical books. While celebratory of Otero’s many contributions to New Mexico, label text also acknowledged the darker sides of Otero’s life, including relations with Indigenous communities.

The exhibition featured objects from the Maxwell’s Otero Collection of Native American objects, as well as photographs and documents from the UNM Library and Center for Southwest Research Miguel A. Otero Photograph Collection,  all part of personal collections that Otero donated to UNM in 1941.  Other objects came from the Albuquerque Museum, Palace of the Governor’s Collection, and Mr. Harvey Delano.


Secor-Welsh, Cynthia. “A ‘Star Will Be Added’: Miguel Antonio Otero and the Struggle for Statehood.” New Mexico Historical Review 67.1 (January 1992): 33-51.

Erin Murrah. 2008.  Miguel Antonio Otero: Destablizing identity in the West. Western American Literature 43(2): 129-147.