The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts Appoints Siera Hyte as the Inaugural Schiller Family Curator of Indigenous American Art

Hyte will manage the growth, interpretation and stewardship of VMFA’s Indigenous American art collection

Richmond, Virginia — The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA) announced today that Siera Hyte (Cherokee Nation) has been appointed as the museum’s inaugural Schiller Family Curator of Indigenous American Art. Hyte will begin working at VMFA on August 26, 2024.

“We are delighted to welcome Siera to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, where she will be an incredible addition to our curatorial team,” said Director and CEO Alex Nyerges. “Siera will advance our commitment to Indigenous American art through important acquisitions, community engagement, exhibitions, publications, public programs and research.”

Hyte will be charged with the development, interpretation, and stewardship of VMFA’s Indigenous American art collection, which comprises nearly 1,000 works of art in a variety of media, including beadwork, ceramics, paintings, photographs, sculpture and textiles. She will also play a key role in the reinstallation of Indigenous American art in the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing II, as part of the museum’s upcoming expansion and renovation project. Other duties include working with VMFA staff members and stakeholders on the museum’s annual Pocahontas Reframed film festival, as well as ensuring the museum’s continued compliance with the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, or NAGPRA.

“Siera Hyte’s appointment as VMFA’s Schiller Family Curator of Indigenous American Art is both culturally relevant and timely,” said VMFA’s Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education Dr. Michael Taylor. “She is a dynamic curator whose commitment to new narratives and meaningful partnerships will strengthen our relationships with Indigenous artists and communities.”

VMFA has a longstanding commitment to Virginia’s Indigenous American communities. With guidance and support from Lynette Allston, chief of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia and president of the museum’s Board of Trustees, VMFA recently unveiled signage in the building and on our website acknowledging the presence of indigenous peoples on the land where the museum stands. The Commonwealth of Virginia was one of the first points of contact between Indigenous peoples and European settlers. Today, Virginia is home to seven federally recognized tribes: Chickahominy Indian Tribe, Chickahominy Indian Tribe – Eastern Division, Monacan Indian Nation, Nansemond Indian Tribe, Pamunkey Indian Tribe, Rappahannock Tribe and Upper Mattaponi Indian Tribe. In addition to these federally recognized tribes, the Commonwealth of Virginia also recognizes the Cheroenhaka (Nottoway) Indian Tribe, Mattaponi Indian Tribe, Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia and the Patawomeck Indian Tribe of Virginia.

“My curatorial approach foregrounds community-centered and community-led scholarship. This role is an incredible opportunity to collaborate with Indigenous artists, community members and my new VMFA colleagues to re-present and grow the collection that the museum stewards, and to tell expansive stories that center Indigenous survivance and the profound creative traditions practiced by Indigenous artists,” said Hyte. “I was drawn to this position because of VMFA’s strong collection and its track record of exhibitions and programs that reframe and expand how we understand American art and American history.”

A curator, writer and artist, Hyte holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at Austin. Her curatorial, programmatic and educational experiences have focused on 20th- and 21st-century Indigenous American artists, and she has a strong interest in pre-20th-century artwork. Throughout her career, she has worked to reconcile American legacies of colonialism and dispossession with the vibrancy of Indigenous art histories, cultural traditions and artistic futurities.

Hyte comes to VMFA from the Colby College Museum of Art in Waterville, Maine, where she served as manager of programs and fellowships at the school’s Lunder Institute for American Art. While there, Hyte organized the transhistorical exhibition Painted: Our Bodies, Hearts, and Village, which examined how Pueblo artists and other Indigenous perspectives shaped the cultural landscape of Taos, New Mexico, and influenced an active group of Anglo-American painters called the Taos Society of Artists, from 1915 to 1927. In keeping with Hyte’s commitment to collaboration and foregrounding Indigenous voices, expertise and lived experiences, the exhibition’s installation and interpretation were informed by a curatorial advisory council made up of Pueblo and Wabanaki artists and stakeholders. The exhibition’s designer, Virgil Ortiz, is a Cochiti Pueblo artist whose work is in VMFA’s collection.

Collaborating with colleagues across Colby College Museum of Art, Hyte also led efforts to develop fellowships for Wabanaki artists and culture bearers to incorporate multiple perspectives in permanent collection exhibitions, special exhibitions, public programs and educational offerings for students in kindergarten through 12th grade.

Prior to working at the Lunder Institute for American Art, Hyte was the assistant curator of modern and contemporary art at Colby College Museum, where she also participated in a nine-month curatorial fellowship. Additional relevant experiences include her previous roles as a lecturer and teaching assistant at the University of Texas at Austin, as a public elementary school art teacher in San Diego, California, and as a museum educator at the Missoula Art Museum in Montana.

For more information about the Indigenous American art collection at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, visit

About the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, is one of the largest comprehensive art museums in the United States. VMFA, which opened in 1936, is a state agency and privately endowed educational institution. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, exhibit and interpret art, and to encourage the study of the arts. Through the Office of Statewide Partnerships program, the museum offers curated exhibitions, arts-related audiovisual programs, symposia, lectures, conferences, and workshops by visual and performing artists. In addition to presenting a wide array of special exhibitions, the museum provides visitors with the opportunity to experience a global collection of art that spans more than 6,000 years. VMFA’s permanent holdings encompass nearly 50,000 artworks, including the largest public collection of Fabergé outside of Russia, the finest collection of Art Nouveau outside of Paris and one of the nation’s finest collections of American art. VMFA is also home to important collections of Chinese art, English silver, and French Impressionist, Post-Impressionist, British sporting and modern and contemporary art, as well as renowned South Asian, Himalayan and African art. In May 2010, VMFA opened the James W. and Frances G. McGlothlin Wing I after a transformative expansion, previously the largest in its history. A new expansion, the McGlothlin Wing II, is planned to open in 2028. Comprising more than 170,000 square feet, it will be the largest expansion in the museum’s history and will make VMFA the fifth largest art museum in the United States.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is the only art museum in the United States open 365 days a year with free general admission. For additional information, telephone (804) 340-1400 or visit

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