Archaeology of a Desk


The final gleanings of Kenneth Chapman’s life as an archaeologist and artist arrived in the Photo Archives in five cartons, in June of 2009. After Chapman’s death in 1968, family members slowly gathered up the contents of his personal desk and office. This material was stored for decades and then generously donated to the Photo Archives and Fray Angélico Chávez History Library at the New Mexico History Museum. Chapman would have appreciated this final sifting of the artifacts of his life, and the ironies of this bit of “archaeological work” would not have been lost on him. This photograph of Chapman “in situ” is one of approximately 300 photographs included in this donation. The collection also included memorabilia, documents, books, small objects, notes, letters, and other material that quietly accreted in Chapman’s desk over the course of his rich and significant life. Noted for his early influence in the revitalization of Pueblo pottery, Chapman was dedicated to preserving the then-dying art form, with lasting effects. Chapman and his wife, Kate, were beloved by all and stand firmly alongside the other titans of Southwestern archaeology.

The Photo Archives at the New Mexico History Museum/Palace of the Governors can be searched online (with the option of ordering prints) at