In Memoriam: Dr. J.J. Brody

Departmental News

Posted:  May 08, 2024 - 12:00pm

Dr. J. J. Brody (UNM PhD 1970) passed away this week at the age of 95.  Dr. Brody was born on April 24, 1929 in Brooklyn to Aladar and Esther (Kraiman) Brody.  He received his Bachelor's degree in 1956, his Master of Arts in 1964, and his Doctorate degree 1970, all from the University of New Mexico. 

His long career at UNM included: Professor of Anthropology 1965-1985; Professor of Art History 1972-1989; Curator at the Maxwell Museum 1962-1972; and Director of the Maxwell Museum 972-1985. He was also a member of the advisory boards of the Ghost Ranch Museum, New Mexico Museum Natural History, 1981-1984,Wheelwright Museum of the American Indian, 1989-1992, Zuni Pueblo Museum, since 1992, and was a member fine arts board for the City of Albuquerque, serving as vice chairman from 1970-1974. He also served as a member of the Governor of New Mexico Task Force on Paleontological Resources, 1978-1979.

Dr. Carla Sinopoli, current Director of the Maxwell Museum and Professor of Anthropology at UNM writes: "Dr. Brody was one of the "greats" in the history of the Maxwell Museum.  He  came to UNM in 1962, as Curator in the then Museum of Anthropology.  He was the director of the newly renamed Maxwell Museum of Anthropology from 1972 to 1984. After he left the Maxwell in 1984 he taught in the History of Art department teaching courses on Native American Art and Museum Studies.  He had earned his doctorate in Art History at UNM in 1970, his dissertation -- Indian Painters and White Patrons – was published by UNM Press in 1971.  Other books by Dr. Brody included Between Traditions: Navajo Weaving 1880-1920, Mimbres Painted Pottery, The Chaco Phenomenon, Beauty from the Art, and Anasazi and Pueblo Painting.

In addition to guiding the Maxwell through its arrival in our current home, Dr. Brody curated many important exhibitions at the museum: The Chaco Phenomenon (1983, a national traveling exhibition), Prehistoric Ornaments of the Southwest (1978), Mimbres Pottery: Ancient Art of the American Southwest (1983), Beyond Traditions: Navajo Weaving from 1880 to 1920 (1976), Pueblo Pottery: AD 500-1968 (1968), American Indian Basketry (1968). among others."

Dr. Garth Bawden, former Director of the Maxwell Museum (1988-2005), interim Department Chair (2005-2007), and Professor of UNM at Anthropology writes:  "JJ Brody's chief achievements while Director mirrored his academic expertise as an eminent scholar of Southwestern Indian Art.  Thus, he significantly expanded the exhibition program of the newlyjj-brody-and-hibben.jfif minted Maxwell Museum, adding an exhibit staff for the first time and mounting a series of fine exhibits showcasing the Maxwell's collections.  He projected this focus throughout our region and beyond through the project by which he is best known for in the museum world, The Chaco Phenomenon, which included a widely traveled exhibition and its accompanying catalogue, which he authored.  His other chief achievement for the Maxwell Museum was introducing 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."

Some of his most noted publications include:

 Learn more in the UNM News article