American Indian art gallery

New Grant Endows Native Arts Curator

The Denver Art Museum recently received a major challenge grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation benefiting our renowned Native arts department. The grant came in two parts: $2 million with the condition that it be matched dollar for dollar within three years to establish an endowment for the Native arts curator, and a cash grant of $250,000 to seed a new post-doctoral curatorial fellowship in American Indian art. (Read about the fellowship in a future blog post.) Denver’s own Anschutz Foundation stepped up with the required challenge grant amount, matching the award with $2 million well ahead of the deadline.

The Mellon Foundation’s investment is made in recognition of the Native arts department’s many important contributions to the study and appreciation of the art and cultural history of Native people in North America.

Nancy Blomberg, Chief Curator and Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Native Arts

With this endowment, Nancy Blomberg becomes the Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Native Arts (she is also chief curator). The endowment funds not only salary costs but also her workplanning exhibitions, programs, and symposia, and allows funds for the travel and research that are a fundamental part of the Native arts curator’s job. The stream of funds that the endowment provides means stability for the Native arts department to continue to develop art experiences around this important collection and to expand its contributions to the field of American Indian art.

“It is a great honor and privilege to have the curator of Native arts position bear the name of Andrew W. Mellon,” said Blomberg. “The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation is one of the most prestigious foundations in the world, and their recognition and support for the work we do at the Denver Art Museum will enable us to grow in new ways. To have the position fully endowed in perpetuity guarantees that meaningful work in celebration of Native arts and artists will continue.”

About the Native Arts Department

The Native arts department at the DAM was founded in 1925 to manage a growing collection of objects and the department’s first full-time curator, Frederic H. Douglas, was a pioneer among US curators, displaying Native material on the basis of its aesthetic and artistic quality. Since then, the collection of more than 19,000 objects has grown to represent the artistic contributions of many North American tribes from prehistoric times to the present. It is one of the world’s finest collections of American Indian art.

The DAM’s mission is to enrich the lives of the people who visit by providing them with excellent experiences with art and artists and to expose them to the richness of the world’s cultures. We have been doing this at the DAM for more than 123 years and aim to continue for many decades more.

Explore our American Indian art collection in the North Building on levels 2 and 3. Included with general admission; free for members. Or browse objects online.

Chiara Robinson is the associate director of development, foundation and government support, in the development department at the Denver Art Museum. Chiara has been with the DAM for more than 13 years and prefers the term "long-timer" to "old-timer."