Emeritus and Retired Faculty and Staff Association

Keith Johnson


Department of Anthropology

Known by his former students and colleagues as "Mr. Museum," Keith Johnson has made numerous contributions to the academic community at Chico State and the wider communities which it serves.

Johnson joined the Department of Anthropology in 1963. That same year, he established the Archaeology Research Program, which acquired more than $100,000 in archaeology contracts and trained students in professional field archaeology techniques.

Six years later, he founded the Museum of Anthropology, which would later become the Valene L. Smith Museum of Anthropology, and served as its director for 30 years. The innovative teaching museum allows students to research, design, and install exhibits as part of their formal training in museum studies.

He also founded the Northeast Information Center, which continues today as the primary archive for archaeology site records and reports encompassing 11 counties in northeastern California.

Johnson, who holds a master's degree in anthropology from UCLA, has been an active volunteer for local museums, serving on the board of directors of the Stansbury Home Preservation Association (1981–1985); the Butte County Historical Society (1991–1997); and the Bidwell Mansion Association (2010–2012). In 1993 and 2000, respectively, he established two history museums in Oroville for the Butte County Historical Society and served as the museums' curator from 1997–2005.

In 2007, Johnson received the Lifetime Achievement Award for Contributions to California Archaeology from the Society for California Archaeology.

Portrait of Keith Johnson