VMFA Celebrates Native American Heritage Month 2022

During Native American Heritage Month and throughout the year, the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts invites you to join its ongoing celebration of the artistry and cultures of America’s Indigenous peoples. From the museum’s permanent collection to programs and educational content, there are many opportunities to learn about the art, artists, and cultural contributions that represent the past, present, and future of Native American heritage.

To honor its commitment to inclusive storytelling, VMFA continuously expands its offerings of educational and cultural experiences to include resources and programs that showcase enriching voices and perspectives. Here’s a specially compiled list of art experiences, programs, events, and information to immerse yourself in as you celebrate Native American Heritage Month.

Native American Art

Online and in the Galleries

Study the works of art online and visit VMFA to delight in a diverse collection of Native American artwork that spans geography, media, cultures, and time—from prehistoric to contemporary.

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Honoring Land and Peoples

In November 2021, VMFA unveiled a statement of acknowledgement that honors the Indigenous peoples of the land on which the museum is located. Read here the statement that greets visitors at the museum’s main entrance and in its Native American Art galleries.

Lynette L. Allston,
VMFA Board of Trustees President
and Nottoway Indian Tribe Chief

In 2022, Lynette L. Allston was elected president of VMFA’s Board of Trustees. Allston is the first Native American person to hold this position and the first Native American board chair of a top 10 US comprehensive art museum. Upon her election, Allston stated: “I am excited and honored to be elected as the president of the Board of Trustees. The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts tells the story of people and their cultures through art, and it is my hope to continue to offer guidance about Virginia’s and the country’s rich cultural heritage.” Allston also serves as the current Chief and Chair Emeritus of the Tribal Council of the Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia, one of 11 tribes officially recognized by the Commonwealth.

Lynette L. Allston,  VMFA Board of Trustees President  and Nottoway Indian Tribe Chief

Current Exhibition

Click to learn more about Words Matter

Words Matter

Featuring 10 works by contemporary Native American artists, this exhibition underscores the richness and diversity of the contemporary Indigenous experience told through the medium of printmaking.

Interactive Gallery

Click to learn more about A Closer Look

A Closer Look

This interactive exhibition, which explores identity and representation, includes two works by Native American artists.

Events & Programs

Click to learn more about 3 in 30: Native American Art

3 in 30: Native American Art

Tue, Nov 1, 2022 | In-Person at VMFA
Thu, Nov 3, 2022 | Virtual
11–11:30 am

Join Jeffrey Allison, educator for the Native American art collection at VMFA, for an exploration of art objects that illustrate the long history and cultural importance of Indigenous peoples.

Activities & Resources

Click to explore Collections Story | Words Matter & Untold History

Collections Story | Words Matter & Untold History

Words Matter underscores the diversity of contemporary Native experiences, highlighting artists who combine text and image to chronicle tragedies of history, but also to supply messages of hope, humor, survival and prosperity. Untold History showcases Indigenous comic book and graphic novel artists and writers who meld contemporary culture with their rich heritage and identity.

Click to explore Collections Story | American Land, American People

Collections Story | American Land, American People

Native peoples’ philosophies on land insist that land and people are inseparable parts of a living spirit. The arrival of Europeans, however, introduced a diametrically opposing world view based in Christianity and expansionism. Presented in pairings across time and space, the works here serve to visualize these perspectives and remind us that land is much more than the soil beneath our feet.

Click to explore Take and Make Activity: Parfleche Bag

Take and Make Activity: Parfleche Bag

A parfleche bag is used to hold items like hunting supplies or personal valuables and is typically made from a rawhide and adorned with different pigmented symbolic designs. Create your own parfleche-inspired travel bag, adorned with different patterns and colors that best represent you and your community!

Related Videos


Artist Talk: Raven Custalow

In April 2021, Raven Custalow, a Virginia artist of Mattaponi and Rappahannock ancestry and an enrolled member of the Mattaponi tribe, joined VMFA for a discussion about her artwork.



Community Conversation: The Natural Bridge and the Monacan Indian Nation

This fascinating conversation, inspired by the 2021 exhibition Virginia Arcadia: The Natural Bridge in American Art, included Monacan tribe member Victoria Ferguson and her husband, Dean Ferguson. Also read a related blog post that VMFA published in April 2021.



Hear My Voice YouTube Playlist

The playlist showcases works of art, artist profiles, and an artists’ panel discussion related to the 2017 exhibition at VMFA.



Hear My Voice Artist Panel

This conversation features three artists whose works were featured in the exhibition Hear My Voice: Native American Art Past and Present. Watch as they share insights on their societal roles, as contemporary artists in their communities, and the merging of traditional and contemporary ideas and techniques.



3 in 30 | American Land, American People

Dr. Johanna Minich, Assistant Curator for Native American Art, presented the permanent collection installation American Land, American People in November of 2021.



Taste of Art – Wines from the Pacific Northwest: Oregon & Washington

Explore two wines from Oregon and Washington. Thomas Bjornsen of Roanoke Valley Wine joins VMFA’s Liz Skirpan, Amuse Manager, and Celeste Fetta, Director of Education. Wine from the two locales are paired with related works of art from the museum’s permanent collection.


VMFA Strategic Plan 2021–25

VMFA is always setting its sights higher and, guided by its latest Strategic Plan, striving to become a more vibrant, inclusive cultural leader.

Learn More