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Cynthia Chavez

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.

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

Since January 2021, Chavez Lamar has served as acting associate director for collections and operations at the museum. She was responsible for overseeing its collections, facilities, safety and information technology departments. She led efforts to ensure effective management of and care for the museum’s collection, which is composed of more than 1 million objects and photographs and more than 500,000 digitized images, films and other media documenting Native communities, events and organizations.

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.