Nina Archabal was associated with the Minnesota Historical Society for nearly 40 years, since 2011 as its Director Emerita. She became its Director and State Historic Preservation Officer in 1987. Archabal led the Society in the creation of the Minnesota History Center in St. Paul, the Mill City Museum on the Minneapolis Riverfront and the Mille Lacs Indian Museum on the Mille Lacs Reservation of Ojibwe, a project that led to her receiving the National Humanities Medal from President Clinton in 1997.
Archabal has served on the governing boards of several Minnesota educational and cultural institutions including St. Paul Academy and Summit School, St. John's University, Carleton College and the Schubert Club. Her leadership has reached beyond Minnesota from her election as an overseer of Harvard College, to becoming the first woman chair of the American Association of Museums, service as chair of the U. S. Committee of the International Council of Museums, and to her current presidential appointment to the U.S. State Department's Cultural Property Advisory Committee.
She received the President's Award from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota. The Humphrey School of Public Affairs honored her with its Public Service Award. She received an Honorary Degree of Humane Letters from Carleton College in 2002.
Archabal holds three degrees in music: bachelors and masters degrees from Harvard University and a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. Since her retirement from the Minnesota Historical Society, Archabal has immersed herself in St. Paul's music community, serving as the current chair of the Schubert Club board. In this role she has participated in the Arts Partnership, which was formed by the Schubert Club, the Minnesota Opera, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and the Ordway Music Theater to enable creation of a 1,100 seat concert hall scheduled to open to the public in February 2015.