The Bourne iden­tity

Pasatiempo - - Dear Pasa -

I en­joyed the ar­ti­cle about the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum’s Imag­in­ing Mex­ico ex­hibit in the Oct. 1 edi­tion, which fea­tured books, prints and maps from the Fray Angélico Chávez His­tory Li­brary. How­ever, I found it re­miss that, ex­cept for a small credit line un­der sev­eral of the pho­tos, nowhere in the ar­ti­cle was there any men­tion of John Bourne — the col­lec­tor of and donor to the mu­seum of the “world class” col­lec­tion of rare books of Me­soamer­i­cana upon which this ex­hi­bi­tion heav­ily draws.

In Fe­bru­ary 1946, John was an early ex­plorer of then-ob­scure parts of Mex­ico — the rain for­est of Chi­a­pas — and with only one com­pan­ion, was the first to ex­plore Bon­am­pak and to pho­to­graph and sketch some of the build­ings. It was on the in­te­rior walls of one of these build­ings that the great Mayan fres­coes would be found just a few months later. He started col­lect­ing art and ar­ti­facts from the an­cient Amer­i­cas shortly af­ter his Bon­am­pak ex­pe­ri­ences. Ob­jects from his col­lec­tion were on view at the Palace of the Gov­er­nors for 10 years.

This Santa Fe res­i­dent’s story cer­tainly should be told.

Ju­lianne E. Al­der­man Bal­ti­more and Santa Fe

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