The Denver Art Museum in Colorado announced today that Nancy Blomberg, its chief curator and Andrew W. Mellon Curator of Native Arts, has died at age 72. No cause of death was released. Blomberg was widely credited with staking a claim for Native American art at the museum, which, in recent years, afforded it more attention than many other institutions of the DAM’s caliber.
In a 2015 New York Times article about the museum’s commitment to showing Native American art, Bruce Bernstein, the former director of the Santa Fe Indian Market in New Mexico, said, “Native American artists are standing in line to work with Nancy.” The painter Dyani White Hawk added that Native American art was an “obvious part” of the DAM’s mission.
Blomberg had worked at the museum for 28 years. In the past decade, she has curated such shows as “Red, White and Bold: Masterworks of Navajo Design, 1840–1870” and “Why We Dance: American Indian Art in Motion.” In 2014, the Association of Art Museum Curators gave the Navajo design show its award for curatorial excellence; a 2011 rehang of the museum’s Native American art galleries likewise received recognition from the AAMC.
To honor Blomberg, the museum said today that it will work with her husband, Art Blomberg, to launch the Nancy Blomberg Acquisitions Fund for Native American Art. In a statement, the museum said, “Nancy was a beloved colleague, a pillar of strength for the museum and a great and most loyal friend. We miss her terribly, her sharp mind and her generosity, her professional work ethic, her dry sense of humor and her kindness.”
Prior to joining the DAM’s curatorial staff in 1990, Blomberg had also held positions at the Anchorage Museum of History and Art, the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, and the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. Her writing appeared in American Indian Art Magazine, Kiva, the Journal of California and Great Basin Anthropology, and she was at one point an editor at Museum Anthropology.