News from MIAC/Lab

Museum of Indian Arts & Culture welcomes new head of curatorial affairs

MAY 28, 2024

Santa Fe, NM – The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture (MIAC) is pleased to announce Elisa Phelps has been named Head of Curatorial Affairs. Phelps brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in Native American art and culture, and her leadership is set to enhance the museum’s mission of preserving and celebrating the diverse cultural heritage of Native American communities. 

 Phelps is originally from Houston, Texas, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Southwest Studies focusing on Anthropology from Fort Lewis College in Durango, Colorado and a Master of Arts in Museum Studies from the University of Leicester, England. Her interest in the arts and cultures of the Indigenous Southwest was sparked early in life on annual trips to visit family in Colorado. 

 “We are thrilled to welcome Elisa to our team,” said Danyelle Means, interim director of Museum of Indian Arts & Culture. “Her expertise and vision will undoubtedly enrich our exhibitions and interpretation, fostering a deeper understanding of and appreciation of Native American heritage among our visitors.” 

 In her new role Phelps will oversee the museum’s curatorial department, leading efforts to expand and diversify MIAC’s programming, develop new exhibitions, and engage with Native American communities to ensure their voices are represented and honored in the museum’s programming. 

 “Having enjoyed and admired the wonderful exhibits and programs over the years, I am thrilled to join the MIAC team as the Head of Curatorial Affairs,” said Elisa Phelps. “Working with contemporary Indigenous artists and tribal communities has been a key element of my professional practice and I am excited to have new opportunities for partnership and collaboration.” 

 Phelps considers herself extremely fortunate to have been able to spend her career working in museums, most recently as Vice President and Chief Curatorial Officer at the Eiteljorg Museum, in Indianapolis, where she oversaw the curatorial, collections, and exhibition teams. Phelps served as project director for the 2022 reinstallation of the Eiteljorg’s 12,500 square foot core Native American galleries Expressions of Life: Native Art in North America.  

About the Museum of Indian Arts & Culture  

The Museum of Indian Arts & Culture is a division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, under the leadership of the Board of Regents for the Museum of New Mexico. Programs and exhibits are generously supported by the Museum of New Mexico Foundation and our donors. The mission of the Museum of Indian Arts & 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 Native Southwest.