Museum of International Folk Art Announces New Executive Director

Folklorist Charlie Lockwood to take over this June

Following a nearly year-long vacancy and national search, the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs today announced that longtime arts nonprofit administrator and folklorist/ethnomusicologist Charlie Lockwood will take over the top job at the Museum of International Folk Art.

“I see this as a museum that already is a community resource, and I think we could lean into that even more,” Lockwood tells SFR. “The reason I got into the field I’m in has always been about fostering understanding among people—obviously art and cultural heritage are incredibly powerful tools to do that, so I want to how how things are going, how the team is doing, how the community is doing. I just want to understand, and I know I have a lot to learn.”

Lockwood comes to Santa Fe by way of Texas, where he served as the executive director of National Endowment for the Arts-designated Texas Folklife, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to celebrating and preserving Texas life and culture across a wide milieu of arts and culture. There, according to a statement from the DCA, Lockwood oversaw numerous programs, including digital archival preservation. He had served in that role since 2016 and worked with the org since 2012. Previously, he picked up his MA in ethnomusicology from UC Santa Barbara. He succeeds Khristaan Villela, who left his position as the executive director at MoIFA for a role with the Getty Center in Los Angeles.

Lockwood’s new position will find him overseeing more than two-dozen museum employees, and he will work with other DCA entities, including the Museum of New Mexico Board of Regents, International Folk Art Foundation and the Museum of New Mexico Foundation. Lockwood’s purview will also include facility management, including MoIFA itself, as well as its library, auditorium, outdoor spaces and collection. Interim executive director Kate Macuen, meanwhile, will step back into her position as director of collections with Lockwood officially starting the job this June.

“First of all, it’s just an exciting opportunity that I couldn’t pass up,” Lockwood tells SFR of his impending new position. “What’s really exciting about MoIFA is how it sits at the intersection of three different things: It’s a local community resource;’s part of a state network of different cultural institutions that serve communities on this larger level; and there are a lot of opportunities for collaboration.”

Lockwood explains that while he’s been a curator and collaborator at Texas Folklife, which could lead to curatorial aspirations of his own on Museum Hill, his first order of business will be to better understand MoIFA and how the local community engages with it and other local institutions.

“I’m excited about embedding myself in community, but also my goal is to be someone who reaches out, who has conversations, who learns about how things work; the local dynamics,” he says. “One of my goals is to be a listener and to learn more about the amazing work the staff is already doing. I’m so impressed with the team at MoIFA, and I have ideas for exciting projects we could be doing together, but I’m the type of leader who really trusts my team and believes in their expertise.”

The museum has numerous exhibits currently running, including La Cartonería Mexicana/The Mexican Art of Paper and Paste and the most excellent and long-running Yokai: Ghosts & Demons of Japan. Up next, Ghhúunayúkata/To Keep Them Warm: The Alaska Native Parka will explore the form and function of parkas and Prison Art & Advocacy will seek to re-humanize incarcerated people.

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