First Annual Ortiz Center Lecture: Looking Back and Moving Forward at the National Museum of the American Indian


Start Date: Apr 28, 2022 - 07:30pm

Location: Anthropology Lecture Hall 163

The UNM Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies will be launching the first Annual Alfonso Ortiz Lecture by hosting the visit of Dr. Cynthia Chavez Lamar, Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI), to the UNM campus on April 28 and 29, 2022. The title of her lecture is Looking Back and Moving Forward at the National Museum of the American Indian.

An enrolled member of San Felipe Pueblo, with Hopi, Tewa and Navajo ancestry, Dr. Chavez Lamar was named the third director of the NMAI in January of this year. She is the first Native woman to direct a Smithsonian Museum. Dr. Chavez Lamar earned her doctorate in American Studies from UNM, with an MA in Native American Studies from UCLA and bachelor’s in Studio Art from Colorado College. In an interview with the UNM Newsroom, she noted: UNM laid the foundation for my interest in collaborative methodologies and Native Art.I was introduced to museum anthropology by way of a course I took with the late Dr. Mari Lyn Salvador [Professor of Anthropology and Curator of Ethnology at the Maxwell Museum].

With expertise in Southwest Native Art, Dr. Chavez Lamar brings a breadth of leadership experience fostering and developing methods and practices for museum collaborations with Native communities. Her career at the NMAI spans three decades: beginning as an intern in 1994, associate curator from 2000-2005, assistant director for collections from 2004-2020, acting associate director for collections and operations in 2021, and, now, director. In New Mexico, she served as the director of the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe from 2007-2014 and directed the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque in 2006-2007.

Dr. Chavez Lamar served on the Advisory Board of UNM’s Alfonso Ortiz Center for Intercultural Studies in the early 2000s. Her work and career exemplify the vision of the Center, which was founded in 2000 as a partnership of the Maxwell Museum and Department of Anthropology. Created in honor of the late Alfonso Ortiz, UNM anthropology professor, MacArthur Fellow, and native of Okhay Owingeh Pueblo, the mission of the Ortiz Center is to create enduring partnerships and collaborations that address community driven priorities through public facing anthropology and humanities initiatives.

Dr. Chavez Lamar will be delivering the public lecture the evening of April 28 and will have opportunities to interact with students, faculty, museum colleagues, and members of the public during her two day visit to our campus. Details to follow soon.

Dr. Chavez Lamar’s visit to UNM is co-sponsored by the UNM Maxwell Museum of Anthropology, Department of Anthropology, American Studies, Native American Studies, Museum StudiesIndigenous Nations Library Program, Institute for American Indian Research, El Centro de la Raza, and Center for the Southwest.