Arthur Henry Wolf

Arthur Henry Wolf

‘Walked on’ from his home in Las Vegas, NV on February 14, 2021 after a brief illness. Art’s family and many friends mourn his premature passing, but mostly the loss of a cherished husband, brother, uncle, friend, colleague, and mentor. Art was born June 18, 1953 in New Rockford, ND and grew up with a perpetual fascination with the world and all the people who inhabit it. He was an anthropologist by training and a humanist in the classical sense. He lived his life with a strong sense of justice and equity. He listened intently and openly shared the experiences, history, research, literature, and music that informed his perspectives and opinions. He was open to new ideas and his social media posts often led to lengthy threads airing opinions, provoking lively discourse, and igniting action. Art called himself a “Museum Lifer" and he was a natural mentor. People sought Art out for his thoughtful provocation, critical thinking, and gentle coaching. Art’s interest in museums, history, and the environment began as a child living at the foot of Scotts Bluff National Monument near Gering, NE which was his personal domain for exploration and discovery. Art’s first museum job was as a Bayard High School student when he was awarded a summer position running the Chimney Rock Visitor Center in a trailer off Highway 92. He went on to earn a BA in Anthropology at the University of Nebraska and an MA in Anthropology and Museum Studies at the University of Arizona. After graduate school Art joined the staff of the School of American Research (Santa Fe, NM) as the first Curator of the Indian Arts Research Center. Art moved to Taos in 1979 to become the Director of the Millicent Rogers Museum where he served until 1987. Art guided the museum to its initial accreditation by the AAM, led the transformation of all permanent exhibits and programs, and under his leadership the size of the facility was doubled. Art loved the cultural and visual uniqueness of the Taos area. He was an enthusiastic participant in its many community events including those that were just for fun, like Trivial Pursuit nights at the Taos Inn. Art treasured his years in Taos and leaves many friends in the community and at Taos Pueblo. After leaving Taos, Art held director positions at the Nevada State Museum and Historical Society (Las Vegas, NV), The Museum of the Rockies (Bozeman, MT), the High Desert Museum (Bend, OR), the Museum of Northern Arizona (Flagstaff, NM), and was founding director of the National Atomic Testing Museum (Las Vegas, NV). In 2004 Art created WOLF Consulting based on his years of experience and service as a respected and trusted museum leader providing consulting services throughout the Western states and in Qatar and Kuwait. Art was dedicated to assisting museums and other cultural organizations in defining and achieving their missions and received high marks from his clients. He especially enjoyed his relationships with Native Americans and had recently joined the National Planning Council for the Sustaining and Advancing Indigenous Cultures project of the Association of Tribal Archives, Libraries, and Museums. Art was recognized In 1990 as a Distinguished Young Alumnus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in recognition of his outstanding achievement and was serving as a member of their Anthropology Alumni and Friends Advisory Board at the time of his death. In 2012 he received the Mountain-Plains Museum Association’s highest honor, the Hugo G Rodeck Award for Excellence in Museums. He was named a Star Advocate by the American Alliance of Museums in 2019. During his more than 40-year career, Art was a member of many national, regional, and local museum associations and served on the AAM Accreditation Commission where he participated in the review of nearly 850 institutions. His national and international service included terms on the American Alliance of Museums Board of Directors, the Association of Science Museum Directors, and the Board of ICOM-US, the United States affiliate of the International Council of Museums. Art was preceded in death by his parents Vivian (Grinde) and Louis I Wolf. He is survived by his wife and partner of 36 years, Holly M Chaffee. Art was devoted to his family and leaves five siblings: Cynthia Kinlund (Bracken), Mary Walz (Gale), Randi Camilli (Dan), Nicholas Wolf, and Barbara Chacon (Greg); 8 nieces and nephews; and stepson Jack McReynolds (Valerie Connaughton). No services are scheduled, but celebrations of his life will be held later this year. Art had great respect for the work done by Archeology Southwest and donations in his memory may be made at https://www.archaeologysouthwest.org/donate/.

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David Witt

With great appreciation for the wonderful work Art did in Taos.

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