The White House announced today that the U.S. Senate voted to confirm the President’s nomination of John R. Grimes to serve as a trustee of the Institute of American Indian and Alaska Native Culture and Arts Development (IAIA), located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Grimes, who played a central role in the $125 million transformation of the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM), serves as the museum’s Deputy Director for Strategic Initiatives and Curator of Native American Art. He has more than twenty years of experience as a curator, scholar, and senior administrator for PEM, the nation’s oldest operating museum.

The IAIA is one of only three higher education institutions charted by Congress. Begun in 1962, IAIA is now a four-year fine arts college, supported by both federal and private funding. The school’s mission is based on the premise that Native American cultural heritage and values are of continuing vital importance to Native American individuals and communities, and that the arts are central to the expression of individual and cultural identity. IAIA encourages exploration of contemporary media as well as historic art forms, and is nationally and internationally recognized for leadership in art education. Over the past four decades, the school has served thousands of students representing most of the 557 federally recognized tribes in the United States. The school includes a renowned museum of contemporary Native American art, located in the heart of Santa Fe. The collection includes works by artists Alan Houser, T.C. Cannon, and other IAIA alumni, many of whom have gone on to achieve widespread fame. (For further information, visit

“I am honored, and grateful to the President and the Senate, for giving me the opportunity to serve the IAIA,” said Grimes. “IAIA is an institution vital to Native Americans and their communities, providing emerging young artists the opportunity to explore their individual creativity, and supporting their development as future leaders, in their own communities and beyond. I see the IAIA as important to all Americans - Native Americans and others ? because it underscores the importance of art in the life and cultural well being of both individuals and communities. IAIA’s programs demonstrate that artists and communities can work with each other to improve the quality of life for everyone.”

Grimes is the author and co-author of numerous publications, including Uncommon Legacies: Native American Art from the Peabody Essex Museum, published in conjunction with the critically acclaimed exhibition of the same name now touring the country. He has curated and co-curated a number of museum exhibitions, including Gifts of the Spirit, a groundbreaking look at continuity and change in Native American art, and We Claim these Shores, a sensitive exploration of the cultural encounters between Natives and non-Natives in New England in the seventeenth century. Grimes is also one of the originators and directors of national cultural collaborations resulting in the Education through Cultural and Historic Organizations (ECHO) program, part of the No Child Left Behind Act educational reform bill signed into law by President Bush in 2002. This innovative program has created significant new museum-based educational and job training opportunities for Native and non-Native children and adults in Alaska, Hawai`i, and Massachusetts.

The Native American collection at the Peabody Essex Museum is the oldest ongoing collection of Native American art in the hemisphere. Including more than 20,000 works of art, the collection’s earliest acquisitions derive from Salem’s maritime and missionary contacts in the Northwest Coast, Great Lakes, Southeast, the Atlantic coast of New England and Canada, and South America. Although the museum’s collection boasts some of the earliest and most rare examples of Native American art outside of Europe, it has also become known, under Grimes’ leadership, as an important collection of contemporary Native American art.

“Through his publications, exhibitions, and leadership, John Grimes has helped make the Peabody Essex Museum a national leader in interpreting and celebrating Native American art,” said Dan Monroe, Executive Director and CEO, Peabody Essex Museum. “He is an ideal selection as trustee for the IAIA.”


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