The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture and the Museum of International Folk Art, two divisions of the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs (NMDCA), announced new assistant directors at each museum.
Melissa S. Powell, Ph.D. will serve as Deputy Director of MIAC and Laura J. Mueller, Ph.D. will serve as Deputy Director of MOIFA.
“The NMDCA is delighted to have such distinguished and talented professionals joining the leadership,” said NMDCA Deputy Cabinet Secretary Michelle Gallagher Roberts. “These women bring a wealth of knowledge and experience to their new roles on Museum Hill.”
Melissa S. Powell, Ph.D. is a museum professional with over twenty-five years of experience, including management of museum collections and facilities. Prior to coming to MIAC, she was Curator of Collections and Adjunct Research Professor of Anthropology Research Collections in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Arizona. There she managed museum collections, including archaeological, bioarchaeological and ethnographic materials located in several university facilities, and managed the curation and use of the collections in research, publication and exhibitions.
“I am honored to return to the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, where I will devote myself to the responsible stewardship and care of the exceptional collections and facilities,” said Dr Powell. “I look forward to working closely with the museum’s new director and members of the Indian Advisory Committee (IAP) to support exhibitions and educational programs that showcase the cultural histories, arts and vital languages of the peoples. natives of the southwest.
Dr. Powell previously served as Curator of Archeology at the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology and has previous experience at the National Museum of Natural History, the Smithsonian Institution and the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. His professional background includes museum studies, the archeology and prehistory of the North American Southwest, the production and exchange of ceramics, consultation and collaboration with tribes and descendant communities, and the curation of exhibits. and collections. Previously, she curated the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Huichol exhibitions Art and Culture: Balancing the World and Secrets of Casas Grandes: Precolumbian Art and Archeology of Northern Mexico. Before completing her doctorate in anthropology at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in 2002, she earned a master’s degree in anthropology at UNM and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology at the University of Virginia.
Before coming to MOIFA, Laura J. Mueller, Ph.D. most recently served as curator of art at the Portland Japanese Garden, heading the art department until the pandemic forced its closure. Previously, she resided in New York for over twelve years, first running Joan B Mirviss Ltd Japanese Art for two years, before leaving to establish MyCurator LLC, a company specializing in curatorial consultancy, art consultancy and collection management. She has produced major exhibition projects including Garden of Unearthly Delights: Works by Ikeda, Tenmyouya & teamLab (Japan Society Gallery, NY), Competition and Collaboration: Japanese Prints of the Utagawa School (Brooklyn Museum of Art), Poetic Pastimes: Japan and the Art of Leisure (Newark Museum) and Strong Women, Beautiful Men: Japanese Portrait Prints from the Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo Museum of Art). She has published several exhibition catalogs and given numerous conferences in the United States and Japan.
“The past two years have brought about a critical reimagining of the role museums play in their communities and the constituencies they serve, and humanistic connections to folk art are the perfect catalysts to weave important stories, start thought-provoking conversations and build bridges for a deeper understanding and appreciation of all people,” Dr. Mueller said. “I am thrilled to work with MOIFA to address the specific challenges of our times by developing a strong sense of social responsibility, compassion and empathy.”
Prior to completing her doctorate in Japanese art history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she completed an MBA/MA dual degree in arts administration at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas; preceded by a BA in international economics at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. During the more than six years of living and working in Japan, she was the recipient of The Japan Foundation and Monbukagakushō Fellowships for research at Gakushūin University in Tokyo. She moved to Santa Fe with her 9-year-old daughter, Amara Genet.
Dr. Mueller has worked hard in his role at MOIFA and Dr. Powell will start with MIAC on July 11.
About the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture
The Museum of Indian Arts and Culture is a division of Department of Cultural Affairs, edited by the Board of Regents of the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the New Mexico Museum Foundation and our donors. The mission of the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture/Laboratory of Anthropology is to serve as a center of stewardship, knowledge and understanding of the artistic, cultural and intellectual achievements of the diverse peoples of the Indigenous Southwest.
About the International Folk Art Museum
The International Folk Art Museum is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the direction of the Board of Regents of the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the International Folk Art Foundation and the Museum of New Mexico Foundation. The mission of the International Folk Art Museum is to shape a human world by connecting people through creative expression and artistic traditions. The museum holds the largest collection of international folk art in the world, with more than 130,000 objects from more than 100 countries.