The Metropolitan Museum of Art has named Patricia Marroquin Norby to an associate curator position, the first Indigenous person to hold the position full time.
Norby is set to assume the role of associate curator of Native American art at the museum. She most recently served as senior executive and assistant director of New York’s National Museum of the American Indian, according to The New York Times.
“We look forward to supporting [Norby’s] scholarship and programmatic collaborations with colleagues across the Met as well as with Indigenous communities throughout the region and continent,” Met Director Max Hollein said in a statement.
Norby previously worked as director of the D’Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian and Indigenous Studies at Chicago’s Newberry research library. She is Purépecha, an Indigenous population concentrated in Michoacán in northwestern Mexico.
“This is a time of significant evolution for the museum,” Norby said in a statement, according to the Times. “I look forward to being part of this critical shift in the presentation of Native American art.”
The museum spent nearly a year seeking to fill the position. For most of the Met's 150-year history, Native American art was housed under a single gallery for art from Africa, Oceania and the Americas. Two years ago, the museum displayed Native art in its American wing. The display was controversial among some Native American groups, who said the exhibition included sacred ceremonial objects rather than just art.
While the Association on American Indian Affairs said the exhibition was staged without consulting Native groups, the museum said it had “engaged regularly and repeatedly with tribal leaders in many Native communities throughout the country.”
The group renewed its criticism of the museum on Twitter and called on Norby to "be a strong advocate."
Let's hope that Patricia Marroquin Norby will be able to stop the @metmuseum's practice of displaying burial belongings and sacred objects, and start working with Tribe's whose #sacreditems are on display there. Please be a strong advocate! #Repatriation https://t.co/AJ30Pqyz7m pic.twitter.com/zqJukErOJp— Association on American Indian Affairs (@IndianAffairs) September 9, 2020