March 8, 2013
In the midst of its 120th year, Arizona State Museum (ASM) has named Patrick D. Lyons, Ph.D., as its new director. Lyons, an archaeologist, is ASM’s seventh director since its founding by the territorial legislature in 1893. He had previously served as ASM's head of collections and, since 2009, associate director.
Lyons replaces Dr. Beth Grindell, who was named director following the death of Hartman H. Lomawaima in 2008, pending a national search. Lyons will assume the directorship on June 1, 2013.
“We had an impressive group of highly qualified applicants,” said Dr. Nancy Odegaard, ASM’s head of preservation and chair of the search committee. “Dr. Lyons was our top choice in terms of scholarly credentials in the Southwest, administrative experience in a university museum, leadership involvement with repatriation, and overall strength of character. Dr. Lyons has a genuine reverence for ASM and he has proposed an energetic and ambitious vision for the museum’s future.”
Previous to joining ASM, Lyons was a preservation archaeologist at Archaeology Southwest (previously known as Center for Desert Archaeology) in Tucson. Lyons is best known for his fieldwork and research on the Salado phenomenon in the San Pedro River Valley in southeastern Arizona, and for his research on the collections housed at Arizona State Museum. Among his long list of publications, Lyons is co-editor and contributing author of Migrants and Mounds: Classic Period Archaeology of the Lower San Pedro Valley (Archaeology Southwest, 2012), a magnum opus which synthesizes the results of fieldwork and related analyses on the Salado archaeological pattern.
“Arizona State Museum is the preeminent institution engaged in the anthropology and history of the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. Our superlatives abound,” said Lyons. “We have the leaders in all areas of southwestern anthropology, sought after the world over for their expertise. Our collections are unparalleled, accessed continuously through tours, research, teaching, and exhibits. This is where groundbreaking research is conducted and this is where visitors have authentic, life-enriching encounters through our public programs.”
As director, Lyons will be responsible for ensuring the long-term financial health of the institution; for positioning it as an integral participant in the community; for energizing relationships with the museum’s diverse constituencies; and for setting a unified and ambitious strategic vision for the museum’s multifaceted pursuits, which include state mandated responsibilities, research, teaching, collections management, preservation, public service, public programs, and exhibitions.
“I want ASM to become as relevant to the larger community as it is and has been to researchers, academics, students, professional archaeologists, tribal governments, and state and federal agencies,” said Lyons. “I embrace the museum’s many opportunities and challenges in order to make that happen. Through focus and unification, and with the help of our members, friends, and community partners, Arizona State Museum’s future is as vibrant as its past is storied."