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Loa Traxler:  Andrew W. Mellon Associate Deputy Director at the Museum
May 12, 2009, Volume 55, No. 33



Richard Hodges, Williams Director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, is pleased to announce the appointment of Dr. Loa P. Traxler as the Museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Associate Deputy Director. The three-year appointment begins June 1, 2009.

A new position at the Penn Museum, the Mellon Associate Deputy Director will oversee the Museum’s academic programs, seeking to strengthen academic relations between the Museum and the University and increase awareness of the Museum as a dynamic resource for interdisciplinary learning. The position is intended to deepen and strengthen relationships with Penn faculty members and to encourage them to use the Museum’s extensive collections as teaching tools for both undergraduate and graduate students, as well as to strengthen relations among the University’s various Research Centers and the Museum.

Dr. Traxler will also be responsible, working with a faculty committee, for the creation of a new interdepartmental World Archaeology major with courses linked to each of the Museum’s research sections, with additional courses in cultural heritage management, conservation, and museology.

“With the breadth and depth of our research and international collections, the Penn Museum has always been an extraordinary resource for University education,” noted Dr. Hodges. “This important new position, and the addition of Loa Traxler—both an international scholar and an experienced academic program organizer—on to our senior staff, will allow us to build stronger bonds between the University, its diverse faculty and students, and the Museum, with its unique cultural resources and international connections. We are deeply grateful to the officers of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for making it possible.”

In addition to the academic oversight responsibilities, the new Mellon Associate Deputy Director will also assist the Deputy Director with the Penn Museum’s in-house exhibition programs, involving more Penn students in the curatorial work.

Currently a Research Specialist in the American Section at the Penn Museum, Dr. Traxler is an anthropologist with wide-ranging experience in both archaeological and museum contexts. Previously, she served as assistant curator of the Pre-Columbian Collection at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, DC; as the collection manager for the extensive holdings generated by the Penn Museum’s excavations at the Classic Maya site of Copán in western Honduras; and as the exhibition coordinator for numerous temporary and permanent exhibitions relating to both ancient and contemporary artifacts, textiles, and imagery from throughout the Americas.

Dr. Traxler works closely with museums in Central America and is currently President of the Board of the Friends of the Ixchel Museum, and an officer for the Copán Maya Foundation. She has organized many professional symposia and conferences, as well as public events, including the Penn Museum’s annual Maya Weekend.

Dr. Traxler received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 2004, writing on the evolution and social meaning of Early Classic Maya architecture buried beneath the Acropolis at Copán, Honduras. She has teaching experience at both the graduate and undergraduate levels, as well as with continuing education for professional adults. In addition to her work in Honduras, Dr. Traxler has been involved with excavations in the American Southwest, France, and Jordan. She holds undergraduate degrees from the Université de Strasbourg and Manchester College.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation currently makes grants in six core program areas: Higher Education and Scholarship, Scholarly Communications, Research in Information Technology, Museums and Art Conservation, Performing Arts, and Conservation and the Environment. Within each of its core programs, the Foundation concentrates most of its grant-making in a few areas. Institutions and programs receiving support are often leaders in fields of Foundation activity, but they may also be promising newcomers, or in a position to demonstrate new ways of overcoming obstacles to achieve program goals. The Foundation’s grant-making philosophy is to build, strengthen and sustain institutions and their core capacities, rather than be a source for narrowly defined projects. As such, the Foundation develops thoughtful, long-term collaborations with grant recipients and invests sufficient funds for an extended period to accomplish the purpose at hand and achieve meaningful results.


Almanac - May 12, 2009, Volume 55, No. 33