San Felipe Pueblo member to lead museum - Albuquerque Journal

San Felipe Pueblo member to lead museum

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San Felipe Pueblo’s Cynthia Chavez Lamar has been hired to lead the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian.

Chavez Lamar will be the first Native American woman to serve as the museum’s director when she takes over Feb. 14. She is currently acting associate director for collections and operations.

Chavez Lamar is an accomplished curator, author and scholar whose research has focused on Southwest Native art. Early in her career, she was a museum intern and, later, an associate curator from 2000 to 2005 at the Smithsonian museum she will now lead.

“Dr. Chavez Lamar is at the forefront of a growing wave of Native American career museum professionals,” said Lonnie Bunch, secretary of the Smithsonian. “They have played an important role in changing how museums think about their obligations to Native communities and to all communities.”

Chavez Lamar, whose ancestry also includes Hopi, Tewa and Navajo, will oversee the museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in New York and the Cultural Resources Center in Maryland, which houses the museum’s collections, and its curatorial and repatriation offices.

The museum has one of the largest and most extensive collections of Native and Indigenous items in the world. It includes more than 1 million objects and photographs, and more than 500,000 digitized images, films and other media documenting Native American communities, events and organizations.

Since January 2021, Chavez Lamar has been responsible for overseeing its collections, facilities, and safety and information technology departments. She leads efforts to ensure effective management of, and care for, the museum’s collection.

“I am looking forward to leading and working with the museum’s experienced and dedicated staff,” Chavez Lamar said. “Together, we will leverage the museum’s reputation to support shared initiatives with partners in the U.S. and around the world to amplify Indigenous knowledge and perspectives, all in the interest of further informing the American public and international audiences of the beauty, tenacity and richness of Indigenous cultures, arts and histories.”

From 2014 through 2020, Chavez Lamar served as assistant director for collections at the museum.

In this role, she guided the overall stewardship of the museum’s collection. Chavez Lamar led museum efforts to improve collection access and availability by advocating for and encouraging an increase in the number of collections online.

She supported the development of a collection-information system module to record access, care and handling instructions provided by tribal, nation and community representatives. Chavez Lamar also established and prioritized partnerships and collaboration with Native nations and tribes, and developed a loan program for tribal museums and cultural centers that provides training and technical assistance to enhance collections stewardship and reconnects descendant communities with the museum’s collections.

Her history runs deep in the arts world in New Mexico.

From 2007-14, she was director of the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe.

While there, she raised the visibility of the 12,000-object collection, and developed institutional projects and programming to highlight it.

She also led and supported the development of Guidelines for Collaboration to assist Native communities in accessing museum collections and museums working collaboratively with them.

From 2006-07, she was director of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque.

Chavez Lamar has a doctorate in American studies from the University of New Mexico.

She is the third director of the National Museum of the American Indian and succeeds Kevin Gover (Pawnee), who served as director from December 2007 until January.

https://www.abqjournal.com/2462731/indigenous-nm-woman-to-lead-smithsonian-american-indian-museum.html

San Felipe Pueblo member to lead Indian museum

–EX: Chavez Lamar first Native woman to direct branch of Smithsonian

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