Nina M. Archabal

National Humanities Medal


Nina M. Archabal is a tireless advocate for the importance of the past in our present world. As the first woman director and chief executive officer of the 147-year-old Minnesota Historical Society, one of the largest historical organizations in the nation, she has sought to preserve and present Minnesota history. She has done so in a way that embraces the many origins of the state's population.

Under Archabal's leadership the Minnesota Historical Society has created two important places to house information and showcase the state's history--the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul and the Mille Lacs Indian Museum on the tribe's reservation in central Minnesota. The history center is headquarters for the Minnesota Historical Society, which houses 165,000 artifacts and one million archaeological items; its programs present history in a way meaningful to people of all walks of life. The Indian museum is a joint project of the historical society and the Mille Lacs Chippewas. Working together, the two organizations seek to present the history of the tribe and to help native and nonnative visitors understand the Indian experience.

Archabal is involved in several national organizations bringing American cultural life to people. She has served as chair of the board of the American Association of Museums and is currently on the board of directors of the American Folklife Center.

By Maggie Riechers

About the National Humanities Medal

The National Humanities Medal, inaugurated in 1997, honors individuals or groups whose work has deepened the nation's understanding of the humanities and broadened our citizens' engagement with history, literature, languages, philosophy, and other humanities subjects. Up to 12 medals can be awarded each year.