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Remembering Bruce Huckell by Dr. Garth Bawden

Maxwell Museum Blog

Bruce Huckell

I was privileged to know Bruce Huckell from the moment he applied for the fairly new position of Senior Research Coordinator (the UNM Human Resources title for Director of Research) at the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology in 1994. He arrived at a time when there had been some disagreement as to the usefulness of the position in a museum and the belief by some that, by encumbering a senior position, it would detract from more important functions. Bruce put this argument to rest in no uncertain terms. 

Over the many years that he held the position he was instrumental in developing the research capacity of the museum and its collections to an unprecedented degree, raising the research profile of the museum in the university to the level that warranted establishment of a new research unit in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Maxwell Center for Anthropological Research. He also played a prominent role in integrating the UNM Office of Contract Archaeology into the museum structure. 

In addition to his skills as organizer and administrator, his international recognition as a scholar played a significant role in this success. His research in paleolithic archaeology places him in the highest echelon of scholars working in the field and helped greatly in the setting up of collections and field research at UNM. From the outset, he shared his knowledge through always well-attended classes in the Anthropology Department, using his position to help cement the complementary relationship between these two centers of anthropology at UNM.

Bruce was universally liked and respected by his colleagues in the Maxwell Museum and Anthropology Department, bringing a quiet yet very strong and confident quality to his leadership. He was a particularly effective mentor for students, many of whom based their academic research on the museum collections under his direction. He always found time from his many other duties to welcome visitors, students, and fellow scholars to the museum and university, combining his academic focus with a generosity of spirit that was widely recognized beyond our walls. He succeeded me in 2005 as Interim director of the Maxwell Museum, a position in which he served with distinction. More importantly, I valued him as a personal friend and greatly enjoyed our regular chats over a beer or two at Kelley’s through the years since my retirement.  He will be sorely missed.

Garth Bawden (Director, Maxwell Museum, 1988-2005)