Anya Montiel, Curator of American and Native American Women’s Art and Craft

Anya Montiel is curator of American and Native American women’s art and craft, a joint position between the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian. This position is funded by the Smithsonian Women’s History Initiative. She joined the museum staff in February 2020. Her responsibilities include researching collection objects, acquiring artworks for the museum’s permanent collection, developing scholarly publications and digital content, and organizing exhibitions that highlight artworks by women and Native American artists at the museum’s Renwick Gallery, SAAM’s branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft, decorative art, and maker culture. 

Montiel previously worked at the National Museum of the American Indian, including as curatorial research assistant for contemporary art (2001-2004), lead cultural interpreter (2006-2007), and cultural arts program specialist (2007-2009). She was curator of collections at the Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Center and Museum, a tribally run museum in Arizona, from 2004 to 2005. Montiel was assistant professor of art history at the University of Arizona, teaching courses in Native American art, global arts and crafts, Indigenous feminisms, and museum studies from 2018 to 2019.  

Montiel received bachelor’s degrees in Native American studies and anthropology from the University of California at Davis (1997) and a master’s degree in museum studies from John F. Kennedy University in Berkeley (2001). She earned her doctorate in American studies from Yale University (2018), where she researched the intersections of Native American art, global arts and crafts, and material culture.  

Her publications include “After Columbus [Indigenous Art Highlighting a Legacy of Resistance to Colonization]” in Art in America (2017), “Native American Expressive Arts” in the Oxford Handbook of American Indian History (2016), “Art That Breathes: Lewis deSoto’s Paranirvana (Self-Portrait)” in Conversations: An Online Journal of the Initiative for the Study of Material and Visual Cultures of Religion (2014), and twenty-five articles for American Indian magazine. Montiel’s most recent book project examines the policies and programs of the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, a federal arts agency created to promote Native American art through economic development enterprises. 

About the Smithsonian American Art Museum’s Renwick Gallery

The Smithsonian American Art Museum and Renwick Gallery is the home to one of the most significant and most inclusive collections of American art in the world. Its artworks reveal America’s rich artistic and cultural history from the colonial period to today. The Renwick Gallery, a branch museum dedicated to contemporary craft and decorative arts, is located on Pennsylvania Avenue at 17th Street N.W. The museum’s main building is located at Eighth and G streets N.W., above the Gallery Place/Chinatown Metrorail station. Both locations are closed temporarily as a public health precaution to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Follow the museum on FacebookInstagramTwitter and YouTube. Smithsonian information: (202) 633-1000. Museum information (recorded): (202) 633-7970. Website:

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