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MoCNA Director Patsy Phillips Joins the AAM Board of Directors

May 1, 2023

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA) Director Patsy Phillips (Cherokee Nation) has been appointed for a three-year term to the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) board of directors as one of their incoming board members. The American Alliance of Museums membership includes “35,000 museums and museum professionals.”[1] On April 11, 2023, AAM announced their new appointments and continuing board leadership. Phillips also serves on the International Council of Museums United States of America Board of Directors (ICOM-US). The International Council of Museums, “based at UNESCO’s headquarters in Paris—represents 44,000 museum professionals at 20,000 museums in 138 countries and territories.”[2] Phillips was nominated to the ICOM-US board in 2021 by W. Richard West (Southern Cheyenne), the president and CEO emeritus of the Autry Museum of the American West and the founding director of the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI).

Phillips is the only person holding appointments to both the AAM board of directors and the ICOM-US board of directors, further cementing MoCNA’s extensive reputation. “During her 15-year tenure, Patsy Philips’ visionary leadership for the museum has raised its profile both nationally and internationally through cutting-edge exhibitions and programming,” says IAIA President Dr. Robert Martin (Cherokee Nation). “Moreover, she led the successful effort resulting in our museum’s accreditation by the American Alliance of Museum—a ground-breaking achievement.” In March 2020, MoCNA was accredited by AAM, news which Phillips shared in a letter from May 28, 2020: “In early March we received word from the American Alliance of Museums (AAM) that MoCNA received accreditation—the highest national recognition afforded to the nation’s museums. Accreditation signifies excellence to the museum community, to governments, funders, outside agencies, and to the museum-going public.” MoCNA’s accreditation places it among a select group of museums in the US—less than 10% are accredited.

“Serving on the AAM and ICOM-US boards are the pinnacles of my career,” shares Phillips. “These roles provide me the opportunity to advocate for contemporary Indigenous arts on national and international platforms.” Phillips has worked for over twenty-five years with Indigenous artists, educators, scholars, and administrators who advocate for the advancement and understanding of contemporary Indigenous arts and cultures. Phillips has served as MoCNA director for 15 years and oversees the day-to-day operations of the museum. Before joining MoCNA, Phillips worked at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian from 2000 to 2008, where she participated in the opening of the Washington, D.C. Mall museum in 2004. Phillips holds an MA in Writing from Johns Hopkins University, a Graduate Certificate in Museum Studies from Harvard University, and a BA in Anthropology from Southern Methodist University.

[1] “About AAM,” American Alliance of Museums, [2] “Who We Are,” International Council of Museums United States.

“Serving on the AAM and ICOM-US boards are the pinnacles of my career,” shares Phillips. “These roles provide me the opportunity to advocate for contemporary Indigenous arts on national and international platforms.”

Patsy Phillips (Cherokee Nation)

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts Director

Current and Upcoming MoCNA Exhibitions

A listing of current and upcoming exhibitions at the IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts (MoCNA).

List of Events

The Stories We Carry

Fri, September 30, 2022Mon, September 29, 2025

The Stories We Carry features contemporary jewelry created by more than 100 Indigenous artists across decades stewarded by the MoCNA permanent collection.

Our Stories

Mon, January 1, 2024Mon, September 29, 2025

Our Stories is a companion to The Stories We Carry exhibition, located adjacent to the Kieve Family Gallery.

Inuk Silis Høegh: Arctic Vertigo

Fri, February 2Sun, July 14

Inuk Silis Høegh: Arctic Vertigo analyzes the Inuit artist’s experimental and interdisciplinary art practices, while challenging stereotypes and addressing environmental issues.

Womb of the Earth: Cosmovision of the Rainforest

Fri, February 2Fri, July 19

Womb of the Earth: Cosmovision of the Rainforest gives Brazilian Indigenous female artists an opportunity to share their art with a wider audience and to voice their concern about challenges their communities face.

2023–2024 IAIA BFA Exhibition: Indigenous Presence, Indigenous Futures

Fri, March 1Sun, June 9

Indigenous Presence, Indigenous Futures aims to show how IAIA’s BFA seniors honor the future as much as the past.

IAIA Museum of Contemporary Native Arts