In Musuem Anthropology 38.1, co-editors Maxine McBrinn and Tony Chavarria conducted interviews with museum anthropologists working within the university setting. This web-exclusive content adds to their collection of interviews published in the journal.
This interview is with Dr. James Dixon, Director, Maxwell Museum of Anthropology and Professor of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This Part 1 of 2.
1. Describe your job.
As director of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology and Professor of Anthropology at University of New Mexico (UNM) I provide administrative leadership for the Museum. I am responsible for the management of all aspects of the Museum’s programs, resources and services including fiscal management and personnel. In my role as professor I also serve on a variety of academic committees, teach courses, mentor graduate students, conduct research, and publish.
2. How does being associated with a university assist your job and institution?
One of the great benefits of being at a university is interaction with students, particularly graduate students. They are a great asset to the Museum and its programs. Their enthusiasm and talent improves the quality of what we do.
3. Does being associated with a university add challenges to your job?
Yes, administrating a museum within a state university system is challenging. University administrators are not familiar with museums. Many do not understand their relevance to the university mission. Because they are familiar only with methods that measure success based on classroom instruction and enrollment statistics, it is takes constant effort to educate them to ensure they understand the essential role of museums in institutions of higher education.
4. How do university students interact with the museum?
The Museum provides unique educational opportunities in terms of experiential learning in both anthropology and museum studies. Faculty and staff facilitate these learning opportunities and as a result work closely with many students on a daily basis. Museum and non-museum faculty teach formal classes, offer practica, and provide independent study opportunities for a wide variety of students. Students also interact by participating in museum programs, events, and exhibitions.