Frans Blom was born in 1893 in Copenhagen, Denmark to a middle-class family of antique merchants. He was restless and started travelling, eventually reaching Mexico in 1919, where he found work in the oil industry as a paymaster. Travelling to remote locations in the Mexican jungle, he became interested in the Maya ruins which he encountered where he was working. He started drawing and documenting these ruins. After he showed his work to the Mexican National Museum of Anthropology, it financed some of his expeditions. He met Sylvanus G. Morley, who brought him to Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Here he took a master's degree in Archeology.
He taught at Tulane University in New Orleans and during his tenure, he undertook several expeditions to Mesoamerica. In 1923 his studies at Palenque documented a number of features neglected by earlier researchers. In 1924 Blom excavated the Maya archaeological site of Uaxactun in Guatemala. From his explorations around the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, he wrote some of the first scholarly reports of a number of sites of the Olmec civilization. In 1926 he was made head of Tulane's newly established Department of Middle American Research.
In 1932 he was married to the American Mary Thomas, but six years later they were divorced. Blom acquired an alcohol habit which later forced him to retire from the university. Blom moved to Mexico, where he met the Swiss photographer Gertrude “Trudi” Duby (1901–1993), whom he married.
In 1950, the Bloms bought a large house in San Cristóbal de las Casas. This house was dubbed Casa Na Bolom - na meaning "house" in the Lacandon Maya language, and bolom (or b'alum in some Mayan languages) means "jaguar", and is also a pun on Blom's name (since "Bolom" or similar variations was still a fairly common Maya family name, some of the Maya assumed it to be Blom's name.) The Bloms turned the house into a cultural and scientific center with rooms for visitors, with Gertrude continuing the enterprise for decades after Frans’ death. The house today functions as a museum. The house became a homebase for expeditions and archeology, such as the nearby Moxviquil and noted expeditions into the Lacandon Jungle.
The Bloms continued undertaking expeditions for the Mexican government. Blom died in 1963, at age 70.
Books by Blom
- I de store Skove : Breve fra Meksiko (1923)
- Tribes and Temples (1926-1927)
- Conquest of Yucatan (1936)
- La selva Lacandona (1955), with Gertrude Duby
- Brunhouse, Robert L. (1975). Pursuit of the Ancient Maya: Some Archaeologists of Yesterday. University of New Mexico Press. pp. 168-214.
- Johansen, Steen (2003). Fra jaguarens hus - en beretning om mayaforskeren Frans Blom. Spring. ISBN 87-90326-51-2..
- Leifer, Tore; Jesper Nielsen; Toke Sellner (2002). Reunert: Det urolige blod - Biografi om Frans Blom. Høst & Søn. ISBN 87-14-29826-0..
- Leifer, Tore; Nielsen, Jesper; Sellner Reunert, Toke (2017). Restless Blood: Frans Blom, Explorer and Maya Archaeologist. Middle America Research Institute.
- Asociacion Cultural Na Bolom - website of the Na Bolom cultural center (in Spanish) (in English)
- Chiapas amber - Frans Blom
- Documentary Photographs of Gertrude Blom
Over a hundred images of Uxmal from the 1930 Blom-Tulane expedition. http://academic.reed.edu/uxmal/galleries/thumbnails/drawings/Drawings-Leyrer-Blom.htm
- - Frans Blom and "Forever Amber": There is always more to science than just science; An article about Frans Blom, published in the University of California Museum of Paleontology BFIP Blog.