Art Historian Mary Miller Appointed To Endowed Chair Honoring Vincent Scully at Yale

Mary Ellen Miller, an expert on the art of Mesoamerica, has been named the first Vincent J. Scully Professor of the History of Art by vote of the Yale Corporation.

The new chair was established in January in honor of Vincent J. Scully Jr., the longtime Yale faculty member who is Sterling Professor Emeritus and lecturer in the history of art. The professorship was established by Archimedes Associates, a group of Yale alumni who formed an innovative investment fund in 1968 with the goal of endowing a chair at their alma mater.

Miller’s research uses infrared photography and computer enhancement to reconstruct and decipher the 1,200-year-old murals created by the Maya peoples of Mexico and Central America. She has written about aspects of the Precolumbian civilization in numerous articles and reviews, as well as such books as “The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya” (with Karl Taube), “The Art of Mesoamerica,” “The Murals of Bonampak” and “The Blood of Kings: Ritual and Dynasty in Maya Art” (with Linda Schele). “The Blood of Kings,” created in conjunction with an exhibition at the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, offered a new interpretation of Maya art. It won the Alfred Barr Jr. Award of the College Art Association of America for “an especially distinguished catalogue in the history of art.” Miller is currently preparing a second edition of “The Art of Mesoamerica,” which has been published in Spanish and Italian. She is also working on two other books, “The Royal Maya City” and “Exploring the World of the Maya” (with Stephen D. Houston).

One of the featured professors in “The Great Teachers of Yale” video series created by the Association of Yale Alumni, Miller has appeared in “Encuentro II,” a three-day live television program from Mexico that was broadcast in 1993, and in “Lost Civilizations: The Mystery of the Maya,” a Time-Life film. She has been an adviser to exhibitions on Precolumbian art at several art museums, including the Yale University Art Gallery, and is a contributing editor to the journal Latin American Art. She is a consultant to several organizations, including the National Science Foundation, the Getty Trust and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

Miller holds an A.B. from Princeton University and three Yale degrees – M.A. (1978), M. Phil. (1980) and Ph.D. (1981). She joined the history of art department as a lecturer in 1980-81, was granted tenure in 1987 while an associate professor and became a full professor in 1990. She was director of undergraduate studies in the history of art 1985-87 and has chaired the department since 1993. She also chaired the Latin American studies department 1989-91. She has headed or served on numerous University committees.

Elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1994, Miller has received many honors, including the NEH Senior Fellowship, Josef Albers Travelling Fellowship in Precolumbian Art, the Fulbright-Hays Fellowship in Mexico and Yale’s A. Whitney Griswold and Morse faculty grants.

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Media Contact

Gila Reinstein: gila.reinstein@yale.edu, 203-432-1325