Congratulations to San Felipe Pueblo’s Cynthia Chavez Lamar on becoming the newest director of 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.
The path to her high-profile post in Washington, D.C., is paved with New Mexico experiences.
Chavez Lamar, whose ancestry includes Hopi, Tewa and Navajo, has a doctorate in American Studies from the University of New Mexico.
She’s had two stints working at the museum she will now lead. Early in her career she was a museum intern and an associate curator at the museum on the national mall before returning to New Mexico to lead local institutions. From 2006-07, she was director of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque and from 2007-14, she was director of the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe.
Chavez Lamar returned to the Smithsonian in 2014, serving as assistant director for collections at the museum. In this role, she guided the overall stewardship of the collections. All told, she’s an accomplished curator, author and scholar whose research has focused on Southwest Native art.
“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.”
It’s always a proud moment to see a native New Mexican rise to a position of national prominence.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.