ALBUQUERQUE, NM (AP) — An Indigenous New Mexico woman has been appointed director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. Cynthia Chavez Lamar will be the first Native American woman to serve as the museum’s director when she takes over the museum on February 14. She is currently acting Associate Director of Collections and Operations.
Chavez Lamar is an inductee at San Felipe Pueblo and an accomplished curator, author, and scholar whose research has focused on Southwestern Native art. Early in her career she was a museum intern and later associate curator from 2000-2005.
“DR. Chavez Lamar is at the forefront of a growing wave of Native American museum professionals,” said Lonnie Bunch, Secretary of the Smithsonian. “They have played an important role in transforming the way museums communicate about their commitments to Indigenous people communities and all communities.”
Chavez Lamar, whose ancestors also include Hopi, Tewa, and Navajo, will oversee the museum on the National Mall in Washington, DC, the museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York, and the Cultural Resources Center in Maryland, which houses the museum’s collections and his houses curatorial and repatriation offices.
The museum has one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of native and indigenous objects in the world. It includes more than 1 million objects and photographs and more than 500,000 digitized images, film and other media documenting Native American communities, events and organizations.
Chavez Lamar said in a statement that she looks forward to using the museum’s reputation to expand Aboriginal knowledge and perspectives to further educate American and international audiences about “the beauty, tenacity, and wealth of indigenous peoples.” Cultures, Arts and Stories”.
During her tenure as Assistant Director of Collections, Chavez Lamar built partnerships with tribes and developed a lending program for tribal museums and cultural centers that provides training and technical assistance to improve administration and reconnect tribal-descendent communities with the museum’s collections.