Published On: Wed, Jul 16th, 2014

Washington State Museum donates 151 photographs of Chichen Itza and Uxmal to the Biblioteca Yucatanense

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The Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture at the University of Washington, USA, donated to the Biblioteca Yucatanense an important photographic collection of the archaeological sites of Chichen Itza and Uxmal, dating from the 1930s.  The collection, comprising a total of 151 images and identified as the “Dr. William Beekman Collection” will be kept in the vault of the Audiovisual Fund of the Biblioteca Yucatanense Institution under the Ministry of Culture and the Arts (Sedeculta).  The collection may be consulted by anyone interested in the subject. 
The photographs were the property of Dr. Beekman and were used by him in his educational lectures on history and geology. His admiration for the Mayan culture led him to collect photographs showing the splendor of Uxmal and Chichén Itzá, architectural icons of the Mayan civilization.
After Dr. Beekman’s death, the collection passed to his widow, Josephine Beekman.  As they had no children, Mrs Beekman left the collection to Mrs. Lilli Jensen, a close friend of the family. She, in turn, left all her possessions to her niece, Laurie Ford.
Ms. Ford took the photographs to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture in Washington State, and the directors of that institution contacted the Biblioteca Yucatanense and arranged the repatriation of this valuable collection.
Chichen Itza, early 1930s

Chichen Itza, early 1930s

Dr. Beekman wrote several articles for “The Exchangers’ Monthly” and “The Mineral Collector.”  In 1906 he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 1930 to Seattle, where his collection was exhibited at the University of Washington.  The collection was accompanied by some of his writings, in which he underscored the magnificence of the temples erected to the god Kukulcan by a civilization that flourished in cities like Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Mayapan.

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