Ulu with forged iron blade and ivory handle, Alaska (MMA 69.71.9)
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. Here, we look back at some of them.
Although the core of the Maxwell’s collections come from the U.S. Southwest, the Museum has long held collections from the northwest coast of North America, and conducted research in the region.
A portion of the Museum’s photographic, archaeological and ethnographic collections from along the Bering Sea region separating Alaska from the Russian Far East was featured in the 2007 Maxwell Museum exhibition North by Southwest guest curated by Joyce Szabo of the UNM Art and Art History Department. Drawing from multiple collections and donors, many of the objects and images in the show came from the Museum’s Julien G. Manser Collection. Manser, a dentist employed by the U.S. Public Health Service, served on the Coast Guard Cutter Northland in the Bering Sea region in 1932-1933. The more than 200 objects in the exhibition spanned from the early centuries AD to contemporary artworks borrowed from the Anchorage Museum of History and Art
Cultural anthropologist Herbert O. Anungazuk, a Native Alaskan who worked as Liaison and Heritage Specialist for the National Park Service in Anchorage presented a demonstration of walrus ivory carving at the Maxwell. He described his harsh and beautiful homeland in label text as follows:
To many who are unfamiliar with the world of the Iñupiat, it is a dark, unforgiving world. Even for those who know and must live on the coastal plain, it is, at times, forbidding and cold. It is then that you are most helpless, and most insecure. It is when you feel most unprepared. The land and the sea will show you its wrath if you cannot read what it tells you.
The sea itself is being, and our people, over millennia, placed their names upon her.