Dr. Gordon Ambrosino has been selected as the next Curator for the Plains Indian Museum at the Buffalo Bill Center of the West. Ambrosino earned his Ph.D. in Anthropology in 2017 from La Universidad de Los Andes Bogotá, Colombia.
Following his studies, he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). He comes to the Plains Indian Museum from the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology at the University of New Mexico, where he served as NAGPRA Coordinator and is currently an Adjunct Professor.
He joins Assistant Curator Hunter Old Elk, who has served the Plains Indian Museum since 2016.
Ambrosino’s research draws on ethnology, archaeology, art history, anthropology of art, and semiotics to elucidate the interrelations between people, objects, and land. His past and current repatriation consultations across North America and abroad inform his research, which focuses on the symbolic, locational, and technical changes of rock art place over time.
Ambrosino is currently curating an exhibition that focuses on the Bears Ears National Monument, a collaborative project between the LACMA, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and the Bears-Ears Inter-Tribal Coalition. Funded in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities, Bears Ears: Living Land (working title), will present a wide variety of artworks and other media to highlight the agency of objects and land, while vitalizing discussions pertaining to the preservation of cultural heritage and public land issues.
About his new role as curator at the Center of the West, Ambrosino stated, “Coming to Cody was an easy decision. I worked in Yellowstone National Park in the late 1990s, so I am familiar with all the region has to offer, and being back here feels like a homecoming. I am thrilled, primarily because the Plains Indian Museum’s collections and the source and descendent communities connected to them articulate with my past and present research and repatriation work while providing exciting opportunities for future investigations, exhibition development, and community outreach in a region where my career began nearly 20 years ago.”
Center of the West CEO Rebecca West commented that the search for a Plains Indian Museum curator – a position which she held prior to promotion – was lengthy, but appointing Ambrosino was, “worth the wait. …He is an accomplished curator and researcher with strong teaching experience. He has also led impactful special projects and worked with diverse Indigenous communities.”
The Plains Indian Museum advances knowledge about American Indian cultures, histories, art, spirituality, and living traditions through the acquisition, preservation, conservation, exhibition, and interpretation of cultural materials from the prehistoric past to the present. The collection stands as one of the nation’s largest Native American art and artifacts and, at the Center of the West, can be studied and appreciated alongside other, wide-ranging collections related to the American West – those of the Cody Firearms Museum, Whitney Western Art Museum, Buffalo Bill Museum, Draper Natural History Museum, and the McCracken Research Library.
For Ambrosino, “the access to experts from different fields at the Center provides exciting opportunities for interdisciplinary and innovative collaborative projects.”