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For the first time in its 150 years, The Met has hired a full-time Native American curator

Dr. Patricia Marroquin Norby will be The Metropolitan Museum of Art's first-ever Native American associate curator.

For the first time in its 150 years, The Met has hired a full-time Native American curator
Image Source: Twitter/IndianAffairs

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City has, for the first time since it was established a century and a half ago, hired a full-time Native American curator. Dr. Patricia Marroquin Norby is of Purépecha heritage, an Indigenous population native to Michoacán, Mexico. Dr. Norby will assume her role as associate curator of Native American art on Monday. Prior to this, she served as the senior executive and assistant director of the National Museum of the American Indian in New York. In a statement, she said she was excited to be a part of "a time of significant evolution for the museum," CNN reports.



Prior to joining the National Museum of the American Indian (which is part of the Smithsonian Institution), Dr. Norby served as the director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at the Newberry, a research library in Chicago. Her previous experience includes working as an assistant professor of American Indian studies at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. She completed her Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, in American studies, with a specialization in Native American art history and visual culture.



Dr. Norby said in a statement, "I am deeply honored to join with American Indian and Indigenous artists and communities in advancing our diverse experiences and voices in The Met's exhibitions, collections, and programs. This is a time of significant evolution for the museum. I look forward to being part of this critical shift in the presentation of Native American art." Max Hollein, the Met’s director, was also excited to introduce her to the team. He stated, "We look forward to supporting her scholarship and programmatic collaborations with colleagues across the Met as well as with Indigenous communities throughout the region and continent." The position has been open since last September.



The associate curator plans to work on collection development as well as exhibition programming that focuses on Native arts and is "in dialogue with culturally diverse production." Dr. Norby will also oversee the formation of partnerships with Indigenous American communities, scholars, artists, and audiences. The first group will be especially pertinent as the museum has for most of its history displayed work by Native American artists in the galleries of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas. In 2018, when it finally held a Native American art exhibition in its American Wing, the advocacy group Association on American Indian Affairs heavily criticized it.



The group claimed that The Met had not satisfactorily consulted with Indigenous representatives in advance. They explained in a statement that the majority of the items on display were in fact "sacred ceremonial objects, cultural patrimony, and burial objects," rather than art. A spokeswoman for the museum claimed at the time that they had in fact "engaged regularly and repeatedly with tribal leaders in many Native communities throughout the country." Hopefully, with Dr. Norby on board, the museum will deliver exhibitions that authentically tell the stories of Indigenous communities with sensitivity, empathy, and a sense of purpose.


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