Senate OKs Funds for Chaco Collection

Caretakers of the huge Chaco Culture archaeological collection are cheered by U.S. Senate approval of $3.7 million to finish construction of a home for the artifacts.

Wendy Bustard, curator of the National Park Service collection, said the move last week raises hopes that the measure will clear the House by September.

The funding would complete construction of the Frank C. Hibben Center for Archaeological Research at the University of New Mexico. The Chaco Collection will occupy the second and third floors at the center, she said.

“We are excited about it,” Bustard said of the Senate’s approval on Thursday.. “Both the Park Service and UNM are anxious to get on with it.”

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., sponsored the Senate bill.

Bustard said the Park Service could begin moving the collection into the Hibben Center by fall 2004 if the House approves the money.

For now, an estimated 1.5 million artifacts in about 2,000 boxes are held in a cramped storeroom at UNM. The material was collected at the 35,000-acre Chaco Culture National Historical park, 50 miles west of Cuba.

Some 5,000 Chaco Anasazi lived at the site from the mid-800s to about 1200.

Hibben, who died last year at age 91, donated $4 million to build the Hibben Center next to UNM’s Maxwell Museum. The building’s shell and first floor were completed last year.

Completion of the second and third floors will allow UNM and the Park Service to consolidate their Chaco Culture collections at one site, together with archaeological field records, photos and other archival materials now housed at Zimmerman Library, she said. — by Olivier Uyttebrouck, ABQjournal

Pueblo Bonito arial photoAnasazi drinking mug photoThe Chaco Collection, jointly owned and managed by the Maxwell Museum and the National park Service Cultural Research Division, contains approximately 750,000 artifacts from archaeological field work in Chaco Canyon. The collections were acquired from the 1940s through the early 1980s during excavation, testing, stabilization and survey of sites in the canyon and surrounding areas.

Chaco Canyon