Cynthia Chavez Lamar

Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian
Humanities and Arts
Visual Arts

Cynthia Chavez Lamar is the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. She is the first Native woman to head a Smithsonian museum. Chavez Lamar oversees the museum’s three facilities: the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., the museum’s George Gustav Heye Center in Lower Manhattan and the Cultural Resources Center in Suitland, Maryland.

She is a curator, author and scholar whose research interests are focused on Southwest Native art and the methodologies and practices involved in collaborating with Indigenous communities.

Chavez Lamar has been at the museum most recently since 2014, and earlier in her career was a museum intern (1994) and later an associate curator (2000–2005). From 2014 through 2020, Chavez Lamar served as assistant director for collections at the museum. She guided the overall stewardship of the museum’s collection, which is one of the largest and most extensive collections of Native and Indigenous items in the world.

Chavez Lamar’s previous roles were at the Indian Arts Research Center at the School for Advanced Research in Santa Fe, New Mexico, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and the National Museum of the American Indian

Chavez Lamar is an enrolled member at San Felipe Pueblo, and her ancestry also includes Hopi, Tewa and Navajo on the maternal side of her family.  

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