The MET and The CIRI Foundation Partner to Promote Alaska Native Artistic Sovereignty in Museums

The MET and The CIRI Foundation Partner to Promote Alaska Native Artistic Sovereignty in Museums
© The Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has partnered with The CIRI Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes the culture and heritage of Alaska Natives in the Cook Inlet region of Alaska. This collaboration aims to connect Alaska Native artists with museums that hold items relevant to their cultural heritage. As part of the initiative, The Met will host two artists, Erin Gingrich (Iñupiaq) and Earl Atchak (Cup’ik), from March 24 to 30, 2024.

During their stay, the artists will participate in various collection viewings and visits with Met staff, as well as other colleagues in the city. The weeklong schedule will enable the artists to build relationships with different institutions across New York and with various departments at The Met. Additionally, the visit will offer opportunities for the artists to engage with and research items in the Museum’s collection and write labels for a work of their choice. Bard Graduate Center (BGC) and the Gochman Family Collection will provide housing for the artists. BGC will also host a talk for its students highlighting the artists and their work on Friday, March 29.

After returning to Alaska, the artists will host a community-engagement activity related to their New York visit. This initiative is part of The CIRI Foundation’s Alaska Native Cultural Heritage and Artistic Sovereignty in Museums Program, which aims to promote and preserve the cultural heritage of Alaska Natives.

Nadia Sethi (Alutiiq), Program Director at The CIRI Foundation, said: “The CIRI Foundation is delighted to partner with The Met through our Artistic Sovereignty in Museums initiative. The museum sovereignty program provides opportunities to increase access to Alaska Native collections that are spread throughout the world, and to ensure that the voices and perspectives of Alaska Native people are shared within museum spaces. We hope that this opportunity to collaborate with The Met will open doors to future collaborations to connect collections to our communities. We are excited that Miss Gingrich and Mr. Atchak will to be able to visit with ancestral belongings from home and share their own work with a larger audience while in New York City.”

Patricia Marroquin Norby (Purépecha), Associate Curator of Native American Art in The Met’s American Wing, said: “We are deeply honored to host Erin Gingrich and Earl Atchak. Through the generosity of The CIRI Foundation, we’re able to engage in an exciting collaboration—one that will allow us to learn and to continue growing our efforts for respectful dialogue and partnerships with Native American and Indigenous communities, cultural knowledge keepers, and individual artists as we expand our Native American art programming at The Met.”