Smithsonian appoints new director of National Museum of the American Indian, George Gustav Heye Center and Cultural Resources Center of Maryland


The Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian welcomes its very first Indigenous female director: Cynthia Chavez Lamar (San Felipe Pueblo).

Chavez Lamar will oversee the museum’s three facilities: the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in Manhattan, and the Cultural Resources Center in Maryland, which houses the museum’s collections and its repatriation offices. .

Chavez Lamar has worn many hats at the museum, starting as an intern at the museum in 1994 and later as associate curator. Since the beginning of 2021, she has been acting associate director of collections and operations. She succeeds former director Kevin Gover (Pawnee), who joined the Smithsonian’s undersecretary for museums and culture in January 2021 and was temporarily replaced by Machel Monenerkit.

She also held positions as Director of the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, from 2007 to 2014, and Director of the Pueblo Indian Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico at from 2006. to 2007.

“I am delighted to begin my term as Director of the National Museum of the American Indian,” Chavez Lamar said in a statement today. “I look forward to leading and working with the museum’s experienced and dedicated staff. Together, we will leverage the museum’s reputation to support shared initiatives with partners in the United States and around the world to amplify Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, all with the goal of further informing the American public. and international audiences of the beauty, tenacity and richness of Indigenous cultures. , arts and stories.

The new director’s education includes a bachelor’s degree in studio art from Colorado College, a master’s degree in Native American studies from UCLA and a doctorate in American studies from the University of New Mexico.

She also serves on the Indigenous North American Advisory Group at the Princeton University Art Museum and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, where she holds an honorary doctorate for her museum work.

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