Office of Archaeological Studies,
Museum of New Mexico
Recipient of the 2005 SAA Excellence in Public Education Award
(Institution Category)

OAS staff (left to right) Steve Post, Wolky Toll, Tim Maxwell, and Steve Lakatos. (Charles A. Hannaford is not pictured).

In 2005, the SAA Excellence in Public Education Award was presented to the Office of Archaeological Services (OAS) at the Museum of New Mexico. OAS is a leader in exploring and identifying effective ways to share archaeological knowledge with the public. Using flexible, customized programming, OAS brings the archaeological record forward for interaction with a multitude of diverse audiences including those not otherwise predisposed towards (or seeking) archaeology.

These audiences include traditional museum and academic audiences as well as smaller, often neglected groups such as Pueblo elders, artists, and home schoolers. OAS programming engages public audiences at, among other venues, county fairs, shopping malls, and at regional events such the Festival of Cranes at the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge, Alamogordo Earth Day, and the Inter-Tribal Ceremonial at Gallup. OAS has piloted an archaeology program for Santa Fe Girls, Inc. (targeted at middle school-aged girls) and, in working with the Santa Fe Public Schools Indian Education Program, has developed after-school science and math enrichment lessons that explore the scientific foundations of traditional lifeways and technologies. More recently, OAS has conducted archaeology tours for youth and adults in substance-abuse recovery programs that are designed to help rekindle pride in traditional knowledge and accomplishments.

OAS invests time and effort in matching archaeological resources to different community needs and interests. These tailored offerings serve stewardship needs by demonstrating to others how archaeology can be relevant to their lives. OAS also enfranchises existing public interest in the archaeological past by embracing cultural heritage as part of the contemporary cultural landscape. For example, the OAS archaeologists believe that archaeological knowledge complements the traditional histories and beliefs of the regionfs native peoples. OAS laboratory specialists have worked with traditional religious practioners to identify ritual materials when supplies were depleted and when elders have died and knowledge of plant sources has been lost. Staff have also applied archaeologyfs science to investigate pottery firing and locate new resources for the needs of the Native American artistic community.

OAS increases the impact of their efforts exponentially by providing resources and expertise to local, state, and federal institutions engaged in archaeology education. Among many examples, OAS has an on-going role in supporting the efforts to train staff, docents, and volunteers at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, New Mexico State Monuments, and Bandelier National Monument.

OAS efforts have also expanded across the border into neighboring Mexico where staff have shared Southwest prehistory in classrooms in cooperation with the Museo de las Culturas del Norte in Nuevo Casas Grandes, Chihuahua.

In sum, through their educational tours, lectures, artifact displays, and direct assistance, OAS helps to generate an appreciation for the richness of the cultural heritage of New Mexico. This is important because the archaeological record is fragile, it warrants respect, and it requires special care.

For more information on the Office of Archaeological Studies at the Museum of New Mexico contact:


Tim Maxwell, PhD, Director
228 E. Palace Ave.
Santa Fe, NM 87501
telephone: 505-827-6343
fax 505-827-3904

Chuck Hannaford, Education Director
Office of Archaeological Studies
PO Box 2087
Santa Fe, NM  87504
telephone: 505-827-6343
fax 505-827-3904

For additional information on the public archaeology activities of the Office of Archaeological Studies, Museum of New Mexico, visit the following web sites:

National Geographic
Unraveling a Mystery- Did the Anasazi use ropes to reach cliffside homes

Santa Fe National Forest Site Stewards Newsletter
(Page 3) A report on a demonstration of the ancient art of pottery firing.

2000 Years of Water Woes
An article on Southwest water and climate history by Timothy Maxwell and Eric Blinman published in El Palacio, the magazine of the Museum of New Mexico.


(Text prepared by SAA Excellence in Public Education Award Committee Chair, Patrice L. Jeppson.)

Posted by P.L.J. 04/25/05.