Justin and Barbara Kerr
(Photo by way of
Elaine Schele’s blogpost.)

The Institute of Maya Studies (IMS) May 2014 newsletter notes the passing of Barbara Kerr (Justin Kerr’s wife) on April 28, 2014.

I had the pleasure of chatting with Justin at last September’s Maya at the Playa in Florida and enjoyed hearing of his and Barbara’s extraordinary 50-year journey as they traveled the world to document and create the famous “Kerr-numbered” photos so often credited in Maya academic works and publications.

As noted in the IMS newsletter: “For over fifty years, they (Barbara and Justin) have been on a mission to steadfastly document and photograph Precolumbian objects and then make their images freely available on the Internet for scholarly and educational purposes. The dynamic duo were already well-established as professional photographers in New York, and as their interest in and passion for Precolumbian art grew, they succeeded in carving out a rather unique professional niche as the “go-to” photographers for museums, scholars, collectors, and art galleries who commissioned them to visually document all kinds of artifacts, not just ceramics, in various media.

Their work inspired Justin to become a teacher, epigrapher, publisher, and inventor while Barbara became a noted restorer of damaged ceramics and sculptures. From the beginning, their goal, Kerr said, has been ‘to reach back through the centuries and capture today on film something of the mind and spirit of the great Maya people.’ And the journey they have taken has changed the way we see the past.”