The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, has hired Patricia Marroquin Norby as associate curator of Native American art; she is the first person to hold the full-time position, the creation of which signals a seismic shift in the Met’s curatorial practice.
Norby, who is charged with facilitating long-term relationships between the museum and Indigenous communities, comes to the Met from the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian-New York; previously, she was director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at Chicago’s Newberry research library.
The Met in recent years has been working to integrate works by Indigenous artists into its collection and exhibitions. Last year the institution commissioned two paintings from Cree artist Kent Monkman; the works, which were shown in the Great Hall, reinterpreted Emanuel Leutze’s 1851 Washington Crossing the Delaware. The previous year, the Met opened the ongoing exhibition “Art of Native America: The Charles and Valerie Diker Collection,” featuring some 100 Indigenous works gifted to the institution by the Dikers in 2017. That effort was met with outrage by the Association on American Indian Affairs, who contended that the museum failed to properly consult with tribal representatives ahead of the exhibition. The Met denied the allegations.
Norby, who in a statement described the museum of being in a time of “significant evolotuion,” will work in the Met’s storied American Wing. “Historical and contemporary Native American art embodies and confronts the environmental, religious, and economic disruptions that Indigenous communities have so powerfully negotiated—and still negotiate—through a balance of beauty, tradition, and innovation,” she said. “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.”