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Celebrating the Life of Colin McEwan

March 28, 2021
12:30 PM
Join friends and colleagues to remember and celebrate Colin McEwan, Director of Pre-Columbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks from 2012 to 2019.


We extend this invitation to join us for a Virtual Celebration of the Life of Colin McEwan (1951–2020), to take place on March 28, 2021, the anniversary of his passing.

Colin served as director of Pre-Columbian Studies from 2012 to 2019, supporting and mentoring a vibrant community of resident fellows, shepherding a succession of ambitious symposia and resultant volumes, and organizing discussions of future directions in scholarship at venues in Central and South America as well as in Washington, DC. During his tenure, he steered the program to new research areas, which led to a series of forthcoming publications, including the catalogue and accompanying scholarly volume of the Bliss Collection of Pre-Columbian Art from Central America and Colombia and the volume for the 2019 symposium “Waves of Influence” that he co-organized.

Born in Scotland, raised in New Zealand, and educated in the United Kingdom and the US, he made the study of the ancient Americas his lifelong passion. Colin carried out archaeological fieldwork in diverse settings including the Andean Highlands of Peru, Colombian Amazonas, coastal and insular Ecuador, and Patagonia. He received his PhD in Anthropology from the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign for his work in coastal Ecuador, where he directed the Agua Blanca Archaeological Project on the principal town of the Manteno Senorio of Salangome between 1977 and 1991.

He was formerly Curator of Latin American Collections (1993–2004) and Head of the Americas Section (2005–2012) at the British Museum, London, where he brought Pre-Columbian Latin America to a worldwide audience through major exhibitions, accompanied by conferences and numerous publications. Colin had a genuine love for Latin America and its people, and he inspired and connected many of those who he met along the path of his life. Please join friends and colleagues on this day to share their memories and celebrate his life.  


  • Tom Cummins, Director of Dumbarton Oaks
  • Margaret Mullett, Director of Byzantine Studies (2009–2015), University of Edinburgh
  • James Zeidler, Colorado State University
  • Tamara Bray, Wayne State University
  • Jose Oliver, University College London
  • Christopher Beekman, University of Colorado at Denver

The memorial will be held on Zoom. If you need any assistance with Zoom prior to the event, please contact the Pre-Columbian Studies Department at