Van Allen, Amy
Project manager with more than twenty years of experience working with Indigenous peoples and on diverse projects spanning exhibitions, web, community and visitor engagement, education, and programming. Recognized leader of high-visibility cross-functional teams delivering exceptional museum experiences to international audiences. Communicator skilled at distilling critical messages, teaching and training, and deriving lessons learned. Change agent for museum practice and mission-enabling opportunities.
- Project Manager, National Museum of the American Indian
- World, Western Hemisphere Transnational Region
Education And Training
- Ph.D. in Geography, University of Leicester , School of Geography, Geology and the Environment, Culture Heritage and Indigenous Knowledge 2016 - 2023
- The Whale Museum 2016
- Smithsonian Institution , Palmer Leadership Development Program 2012
- Yanapuma 2010 - 2012
- University of Queensland , International Field School in Museums and Sustainable Heritage Development 2008
- M.S. in Environmental Science and Policy, Johns Hopkins University , biodiversity policy, marine/water issues, Indigenous rights 2004 - 2007
- U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) , Graduate School, Executive Leadership Program 2001 - 2002
- M.A. in International Relations, American University 1993 - 1995
- B.A. in International Relations, Johns Hopkins University 1989 - 1993
- Fulbright Scholar , research and technical assistance for Indigenous community museums 2023 - 2024
Amy's multidisciplinary experience benefits the diversity of projects in her portfolio. A committed professional leading large project teams working on high-visibility projects, Amy's leadership and training work for the expansion of the museum's mission to both individual and community benefit. Her scholarly work is in service to similar goals of expanding recognition of diverse knowledge systems and exploring gaps related to the intersections of society, culture, and nature.
- Assigned to examine and cohesively execute the redevelopment of the museum’s signage and wayfinding systems, along with non-gallery public spaces, to improve visitor experience and deploy critical content for visitor orientation and basic issue understanding
- Lauded execution of the Walt Disney World Epcot project, Epcot’s first-ever exhibition featuring the history and culture of Native America, and the Inka Road project, the first project dedicated to South America, culminating in a major gallery exhibition, publication, international traveling exhibition, multiple education products, and a collaboration with the Smithsonian Folklife Festival
- Successful conceptualization, development, and installation of the museum-changing imagiNATIONS Activity Center, the first immersive hands-on family space in the museum which brought new and repeat audiences and made culture accessible in non-threatening ways
- PhD dissertation explores how indigenous knowledge systems are recognized and can be incorporated into heritage discussions to improve sustainable management practices that engage with Indigenous people in respectful ways that both include their place-specific knowledges and provide for positive socio-economic outcomes
- Amy spent the first 12 years of her NMAI career working with Indigenous communities across the Western Hemisphere. Recent museum project work includes the off-site exhibition at Walt Disney World's Epcot Center, the bilingual South American‐focused exhibition, The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire, including a traveling version and components of the 2015 Smithsonian Folklife Festival featuring Peru, and the interactive family‐friendly imagiNATIONS Activity Center. As part of the wider Smithsonian community, Amy has volunteered as a tour manager for Smithsonian Journeys, which has taken her to many extraordinary places, from Glacier Bay, Alaska to Japan and the Galápagos. Amy holds an MS in environmental science and an MA in international relations. Her PhD work is in geography focused on cultural heritage. She is also a certified marine naturalist for the Salish Sea and a team lead for Casey Trees.
- Van Allen, Amy. 2010. "Encounters through a Museum Field School." Curator: The Museum Journal, 53, (4) 397–403. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.2151-6952.2010.00041.x. 2010
- Van Allen, Amy. 2010. "If We Build it, Will They Come?: Changing Course in an International Institution." International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, 3, (1) 123–131. 2010
- Van Allen, Amy. 2009. "Transcending the Traditional Construct of Museums in Contemporary Living Spaces: Examples from the State Library of Queensland and the National Museum of the American Indian." International Journal of the Inclusive Museum, 2, (3) 81–87. 2009
My research explores how Indigenous knowledge systems are recognized and can be incorporated into heritage discussions to improve sustainable management practices that engage with Indigenous people in respectful ways that both include their place-specific knowledges and provide for positive socio-economic outcomes. It seeks to redefine methods of engagement and focal points of program development, where global process includes local voices and concerns. My outreach is focused on building skills in communities and community-run cultural centers that local promote heritage practice and development.
- Guest lecturer for university courses in the U.S., Canada, Australia, and Great Britain on inclusive museum practices
Professional Service Activities
- Pucara Tambo Cultural Center technical assistance- strategic planning and museum development 2018 -
Outreach And Community Service Activities
Has Knowledge Of
- Spanish Language (Skill)
- National Museum of the American Indian Department