W. Richard West Jr. discusses the history of Massachusetts’ cultural leaders, who have always been a resourceful, committed, and resilient lot. West notes that the past few years have brought immense challenges, and the cultural community has managed to meet those challenges and emerge into the 21st century with vision and spirit intact. But where do we go from here, and how do we get there? The “old” ways of doing business may no longer work. W. Richard West Jr. is founding director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). He is responsible for guiding the successful opening of the three facilities that comprise the national museum, the most recent of which opened on the National Mall in Washington, DC in September. A citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma, West has devoted his professional life and much of his personal life to working with American Indians on cultural, educational, legal, and governmental issues. West served as chair of the American Association of Museums, the nation’s only national membership organization representing all types of museums and museum professionals, from 1998-2000. He is currently the vice chair of the American Association of Museums/International Council of Museums, an organization that represents the interests of American institutions in the international museum community. West holds a bachelor’s degree in American History from the University of Redlands in California, a master’s degree in American History from Harvard, and a law degree from Stanford.
BIO: W. Richard West Jr.
Walter Richard West, Jr. was the founding director of the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian, retiring in 2007. He is also a citizen of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes in Oklahoma and a Peace Chief of the Southern Cheyenne. His professional life has been devoted to serving the American Indian community on cultural, artistic, educational, legal and governmental issues. Richard West earned a bachelor of arts degree in American History, graduating magna cum laude in 1965 and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Redlands in California. He also received a master’s degree in American History from Harvard University in 1968. West graduated from the Stanford University School of Law with a doctor of jurisprudence degree in 1971, where he also was the recipient of the Hilmer Oehlmann Jr. Prize for excellence in legal writing and served as an editor and note editor of the Stanford Law Review.