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Megan E. O'NeilAssistant ProfessorFaculty Curator, Art of the Americas, Michael C. Carlos Museum


  • Ph.D., History of Art, Yale University, 2005
  • M.A., Art History, University of Texas at Austin, 1999
  • B.A., Archaeological Studies, Yale University, 1994


Megan E. O'Neil, Assistant Professor of Art History at Emory University and Faculty Curator of the Art of the Americas, is a specialist in the ancient Maya and other cultures of the ancient Americas. Prior to joining the Emory faculty, she taught at several universities and was Associate Curator at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). One aspect of her research focuses on ancient Maya creation of and engagement with stone sculptures, explored in her first book, Engaging Ancient Maya Sculpture at Piedras Negras, Guatemala. Dr. O'Neil has keen interests in the reception of Mesoamerican art and culture over time and has studied collecting and exhibition practices as well as artists' engagements with the art of the ancient Americas.

Research Interests

  • Mesoamerican art and archaeology, with emphasis in ancient Maya stone sculpture and ceramics
  • Iconoclasm
  • Materiality and human engagement with things
  • Histories of collecting and exhibition of the art of the ancient Americas

Selected Publications


Forces of Nature

Forces of Nature: Ancient Maya Arts from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (自然的力量——洛杉矶郡艺术博物馆藏古代玛雅艺术品) Beijing: Cultural Relics Press, 2018.

Mayan Art and ArchitectureMaya Art and Architecture, 2nd revised edition. co-author with Mary Ellen Miller. London: Thames and Hudson, 2014.
Engaging Ancient Maya SculptureEngaging Ancient Maya Scupture at Piedras Negras, Guatemala. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2012.

Selected Articles and Book Chapters

"An Artistic Discovery of America: Exhibiting and Collecting Mexican Pre-Hispanic Art in Los Angeles from 1940 to the 1960s," co-authored with Mary Ellen Miller, Found in Translation: Design in California and Mexico, 1915-1985, ed. Wendy Kaplan, pp. 162-167. Los Angeles: LACMA and Prestel, 2017.

"Stucco-Painted Vessels from Teotihuacan: Integration of Ceramic and Mural Traditions," Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, ed. Matthew H. Robb, pp. 162-167. San Francisco: de Young Museum and University of California Press, 2017.

"Nuevas Perspectivas Sobre los Huesos Tallados del Entierro 166 de Tika," XXIX Simposio de Investigaciones Arquelógicas en Guatemala 2015, ed. Bárbara Arroyo, Luis Méndez Salinas, and Gloria Ajú Álvarez, T. II, pp. 741-7512. Guatemala City: Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Instituto de Antropología e Historia, Asociación Tikal, 2016.

"Object Reuse, Object as Refuse: Varying Life Histories of Ancient Maya Sculptures." Estéticas del des(h)echo, ed. Nuria Balcells, pp. 343-357. México, D.F.: Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, UNAM, 2014.

“Marked Faces, Displaced Bodies: Monument Breakage and Reuse among the Classic-Period Maya.” Striking Images, Iconoclasms Past and Present. ed. Stacy Boldrick, Leslie Brubaker, and Richard Clay. pp.47-64. Farnham, England: Ashgate, 2013.

“Object, Memory, and Materiality at Yaxchilan: The Reset Lintels of Structures 12 and 22.” Ancient Mesoamerica 22(2):245-269 (2011).

“The Material Evidence of Ancient Maya Sculpture.” Journal of Visual Culture 9(3):316-328 (December 2010).

“Ancient Maya Sculptures of Tikal, Seen and Unseen,” Res: Anthropology and Aesthetics 55/56:119-134 (2009).

Current Projects

Dr. O'Neil recently published a museum catalogue, Forces of Nature: Ancient Maya Arts from the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (自然的力量——洛杉矶郡艺术博物馆藏古代玛雅艺术品), which accompanies an exhibition she curated that currently is touring in China. She has several publications in press, including one book, Revealing Creation: The Art and Science of Ancient Maya Ceramics, for which she is contributor and co-editor, that is the result of collaborative research involving LACMA curators and conservators. This year she returns to her research on Maya monumental stone scuptures, specifically to complete her book manuscript, The Lives of Ancient Maya Sculptures, which explores ancient Maya practices of scultpural creation, resetting, destruction, burning, and burial.