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MFA appoints first curator of Native American art

Marina Tyquiengco, Ellyn McColgan Assistant Curator of Native American Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.Courtesy of Museum of Fine Arts

For the first time in its 150-year history, the Museum of Fine Arts has hired an assistant curator of Native American Art, a newly created position within the museum’s Art of the Americas department.

Marina Tyquiengco, a scholar who specializes in Native American and Aboriginal Australian art, has been appointed to the new position, known formally as the Ellyn McColgan Assistant Curator of Native American Art.

In her new role, Tyquiengco, who currently is a curatorial assistant in the museum’s department of contemporary art, will work to interpret and exhibit the MFA’s Native American collection, which dates to the museum’s founding in 1870 and comprises more than 800 objects, including everything from ancient ceramics from the Mississippian Mound Builders to a collection of 20th-century Inuit prints and sculptures. She will also work to build relationships with Indigenous communities as part of the museum’s ongoing effort to become more accessible and welcoming to historically marginalized groups.

“I am excited to expand upon the work of my fabulous colleagues to highlight Native art, voices, and stories,” Tyquiengco said in a statement to the Globe. “As a CHamoru (Indigenous people of Guam) woman, I look forward to building deeper relationships with the local Native communities and shepherding more representation of Native arts of this region into the Museum.”


At the MFA, Tyquiengco has recently helped organize “New Light: Encounters and Connections” and “A Garden for Boston,” both of which are currently on view.

Ethan Lasser, chair of the Art of the Americas, said the new curatorial position “reflects our commitment to centering Native American art in a broader and fuller presentation of the Americas.”

“Marina is the ideal candidate for this inaugural role,” he said in a statement to the Globe. “Through her work at the MFA and in the academy, Marina has distinguished herself as an innovative curator, thinker and teacher committed to making space for diverse Native voices, connecting with community and to raising new questions about our collections and their meaning today.”


Tyquiengco recently earned her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. She will transition into her new role at the museum in September.

Malcolm Gay can be reached at Follow him @malcolmgay.