The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts (VMFA), Richmond, announced Lynette L. Allston as the next president of its board of trustees, making her the first Indigenous person to head the board of trustees at a major US arts institution. Allston, who has served on the board since 2017, provided the VMFA with crucial assistance in drafting its land acknowledgment statement. Released last year, the statement appears on a plaque at the museum’s entrance and recognizes the Commonwealth of Virginia as one of the earliest points of contact between European colonizers and Indigenous people, who then occupied the land on which the institution now sits.
Allston is chief and chair emeritus of the tribal council of Nottoway Indian Tribe of Virginia and leads the board of the president of the board of Courtland, Virginia’s Rawls Museum Arts, one of twenty-four regional Virginia arts institutions that frequently collaborate with the VMFA. She is a graduate of Duke University, where she majored in history and secondary education before embarking on a career of civic engagement and business ownership.
“Through her many accolades in Virginia’s diverse Native American community, Lynette will be not only a great leader, but will help ensure that the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts is a museum that embraces all visitors,” said Alex Nyerges, the VMFA’s director and CEO.
The eighty-six-year-old VFMA, home to some 50,000 objects and artworks, boasts a substantial collection of Indigenous art, ranging from contemporary works to artifacts. Represented are tribes from the Arctic, the Northwest Coast, the Plains, and the Southwest. The institution has in recent years begun working toward establishing provenance of the works in its collection. Last summer, it announced a $190 million expansion, which is slated to be completed in 2025.