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In Memoriam: Dr. Jacob Jerome (Jerry) Brody (1929-2024)

Maxwell Museum Blog

J.J. Broady and camera

      The Maxwell Museum of Anthropology mourns the passing of Dr. Jacob Jerome (Jerry) Brody, who passed away on Monday May 6, at the age of 95.  After serving in the Korean War, Jerry moved to New Mexico in 1955. There he participated in his first archaeological excavation project, where he met the woman who was to be his wife of 68 years: Jean.

Brody earned his BA, MA and PhD from the University of New Mexico. He joined the Museum of Anthropology in 1962 as Curator, where he built on his prior experience as Curator of Collections at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe and at the Isaac Delgado Museum of Art in New Orleans. He became Director of the newly renamed Maxwell Museum of Anthropology in 1972, a position he held until 1984. Throughout his tenure as director, he brought to the Museum, as  former Maxwell Director Dr. Garth Bawden noted, "a level of museum professionalism that it had not previously possessed ... This thrust culminated in the museum's accreditation by the American Association of Museums for the first time at a time when only a minority of museums held this distinction." Also while serving as Director, Dr. Brody taught classes in Anthropology, Art History and Museum Studies. After he stepped down from the Maxwell in 1984, Dr. Brody continued as a Professor in the Department of Art and Art History until his retirement in 1989.

A specialist and admirer of Native American art, Dr. Brody mounted numerous exhibitions at the Maxwell.  These included American Indian Basketry (1968), Pueblo Pottery: AD 500-1968 (1968), Between Traditions: Navajo Weaving from 1880 to 1920 (1976); Prehistoric Ornament of the Southwest (1978), Myth, Metaphor, and Mimbreno Art (1977), and The Chaco Phenomenon (1983), among many others.  The Chaco Phenomenon traveled nationally, as did his exhibitions Beauty from the Earth, which Brody curated for the Penn Museum (1983-1987), and Mimbres Pottery: Ancient Art of the American Southwest, which he curated for the American Federation of Arts (1983-1985).

Dr. Brody was the author of numerous books, exhibition catalogs, and articles, and is renowned for his work on Mimbres Pottery and Southwest Native American art more broadly. His doctoral dissertation Indian Arts and White Patrons, completed in 1970 became his first book (UNM Press, 1971). His much lauded book Mimbres Painted Pottery first appeared in 1977, followed by an updated edition in 2005. Dr. Marit Munson (Trent University) wrote of the 2005 edition, “J. J. Brody’s knowledge of and delight in Mimbres pottery shines through in this informative update of his classic 1977 book….It will not only be of interest to a general audience, but also serves as a reminder to archaeologists not to lose sight of the beauty of the artifacts they study.”

Dr. Brody was a beloved teacher and the focus of not one, but two edited volumes honoring his immense contributions to museums, art history, and his students.  Archaeology, Art, and Anthropology: Papers in Honor of J.J. Brody, edited by Meliha S. Duran and David T. Kirkpatrick (1992, The Archaeological Society of New Mexico, vol. 18) and Painters, Patrons, and Identity: Essays in Native American Art To Honor J.J. Brody edited by Joyce M. Szabo (UNM Press, 2001).

Dr. Brody is survived by his wife Jean, children Jefferson Lindsey Brody, Jonathan Edward Brody, and Allison Janet Brody, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.  He leaves behind a tremendous legacy of family, friendships, and contributions to Native American art, anthropology, UNM and the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology.

A memorial gathering to celebrate the life of Jerry Brody will be held on May 17, 2024 from 4-6 pm in the Anthropology Building, Room 163; and will also be broadcast on zoom. 

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