September 12, 2015 Penn Museum: Elin Danien, PhD; Consulting Scholar in the American Section of the Penn Museum: "M. Louise Baker, Maya Pottery, and the Penn Museum"

            Five years ago, Elin talked to the PCS about Painted Metaphors, the exhibit she curated, and included a bit about M. Louise Baker, whose water colors of Maya pottery were used in the exhibit.  Now, her research for a biography of Baker, the foremost archaeological artist of her day, has produced a lot more information about this remarkable woman.  In this talk, Elin discussed Baker's sometimes testy relationship with the Museum's director George B. Gordon, her travels to seek out Maya pottery in private collections; some of her experiences in Berlin in the 1930s when she was there to paint Maya vessels in the Dusseldorf collection, and her masterful reconstruction painting of Piedras Negras Lintel 3. 

            Elin Danien is a Consulting Scholar in the American Section of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.  Her interest in the life and work of archaeologist Robert Burkitt resulted in her 1998 dissertation, Chama Polychrome Ceramic Cylinders in the University of Pennsylvania Museum; the volumes Maya Linguist: The Lost Linguistic Notebooks of Robert Burkitt (with co-editor John Weeks), and  Maya Folktales from the Alta Verapaz, as  well as numerous papers and articles about this eccentric individual.  She curated Painted Metaphors: Pottery and Politics of the Ancient Maya, which focuses on Burkittís archaeological collections; the exhibit has been seen in various venues throughout the country following its 2009 year-long presentation in the Penn Museum. Elin has written extensively on George Byron Gordon, Sara Yorke Stevenson, M. Louise Baker, and other actors in the history of Penn Museum and Maya archaeology.  She is currently working on biographies of archaeologist Robert Burkitt and of archaeological artist  M. Louise Baker.

            As the Museumís Public Programs Coordinator she originated and for many years organized the Museumís renowned annual Maya Weekend.   The volume, New Theories on the Ancient Maya, which she edited with Robert J. Sharer, was based on papers presented at those  meetings. She is responsible for the renovation of, and a guide to, the Mesoamerican Gallery at the Museum.

            In 1987 she created Bread Upon the Waters, a full scholarship for women at least 30 years of age, who are only able to attend Penn as part time students.  To date, over 100 women have graduated, more than half with honors, and more than a third have gone on to graduate studies.

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