National Museum of the American Indian

1 Bowling Green

The National Museum of the American Indian is the sixteenth museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Am... more

The National Museum of the American Indian is the sixteenth museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans. Established by an act of Congress in 1989, the museum works in collaboration with the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere to protect and foster their cultures by reaffirming traditions and beliefs, encouraging contemporary artistic expression, and empowering the Indian voice. The museum's extensive collections, assembled largely by George Gustav Heye (1874–1957), encompass a vast range of cultural material—including more that 800,000 works of extraordinary aesthetic, religious, and historical significance, as well as articles produced for everyday, utilitarian use. The collections span all major culture areas of the Americas, representing virtually all tribes of the United States, most of those of Canada, and a significant number of cultures from Middle and South America as well as the Caribbean. Chronologically, the collections include artifacts from Paleo-Indian to contemporary arts and crafts. The museum's holdings ... more

The National Museum of the American Indian is the sixteenth museum of the Smithsonian Institution. It is the first national museum dedicated to the preservation, study, and exhibition of the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans. Established by an act of Congress in 1989, the museum works in collaboration with the Native peoples of the Western Hemisphere to protect and foster their cultures by reaffirming traditions and beliefs, encouraging contemporary artistic expression, and empowering the Indian voice.

The museum's extensive collections, assembled largely by George Gustav Heye (1874–1957), encompass a vast range of cultural material—including more that 800,000 works of extraordinary aesthetic, religious, and historical significance, as well as articles produced for everyday, utilitarian use. The collections span all major culture areas of the Americas, representing virtually all tribes of the United States, most of those of Canada, and a significant number of cultures from Middle and South America as well as the Caribbean. Chronologically, the collections include artifacts from Paleo-Indian to contemporary arts and crafts. The museum's holdings also include film and audiovisual collections, paper archives, and a photography archive of approximately 90,000 images depicting both historic and contemporary Native American life.


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Financial District Description

National Museum of the American Indian is located in the Financial District neighborhood of Manhattan. The financial hub of the United States, the seat of New York City government, and home to some of New York's oldest buildings, the Financial District has an illustrious history. 17th century settlers began building here, and given the many seafarers of the time, boats could be conveniently docked at one of the slips right near the settlements of wooden homes. Right nearby, in the heart of the district is Federal Hall, where George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the United States in 1789, also the meeting site for the First Congress. New York City was both the capital of the United States and New York State at the time.

The street names reflect the district's fascinating history: Fulton Street, named after Robert Fulton, the inventor of the steamboat; Maiden Lane, originally called Magde Platje in Dutch; Beaver Street, recalling the once-significant beaver pelt trade, etc.

The area today houses some great economic powerhouses, including the headquarters of major banks, the New York Stock Exchange, in addition to the World Financial Center. Contrasts are extraordinary, from old two- and three-story old brick buildings near South Street Seaport to the nearby modern mega-skyscrapers. Some of the numerous other attractions include Fraunces Tavern, where George Washington bid farewell to his troops (also, they have a museum!); the newly-landscaped City Hall Park; the Museum of the American Indian and the US Custom House at Bowling Green; Trinity Church, the first parish church in New York City and the resting place of Alexander Hamilton and Robert Fulton, among others; War Of 1812 strong hold Castle Clinton; the Staten Island-bound South Ferry; Battery Park; and the Federal Reserve Bank. Sadly, the biggest attraction since 9/11 has been the former World Trade Center site, although, thankfully, construction has finally filled the long-standing gouge in Lower Manhattan's face, and the stunning 9/11 Memorial and its attendant museum are welcome signs of a healing city. And, of course, soaring a symbolic 1,776 feet over the memorial is the new 1 World Trade Center!

Native American Arts and Artifacts

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world—approximately 266,000 catalog records (825,000 items) representing over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americ... [ + ]as. Ranging from ancient Paleo-Indian points to contemporary fine arts, the collections include works of aesthetic, religious, and historical significance as well as articles produced for everyday use. Current holdings include all major culture areas of the Western Hemisphere, representing virtually all tribes in the United States, most of those of Canada, and a significant number of cultures from Middle and South America and the Caribbean. Approximately 68 percent of the object collections originate in the United States, with 3.5 percent from Canada, 10 percent from Mexico and Central America; 11 percent from South America; and 6 percent from the Caribbean. Overall, 55 percent of the collection is archaeological, 43 percent ethnographic, and 2 percent modern and contemporary arts. (These figures are based on catalog numbers, not number of items, where single catalog numbers encompassing dozens of sherds or projectile points would skew percentages toward archaeology.) In terms of collections’ growth, NMAI continues to focus actively on modern and contemporary arts, relying on donations for the expansion of earlier ethnographic collections. Given the 1970 passage of UNESCO regulations controlling antiquities exports from Latin America, and North American Indian peoples’ continuing ambivalence about archaeology, there is little expectation for substantial growth of the archaeological collections. And although NMAI’s enabling legislation encompasses Hawai’i, the museum does not accept or collect Native Hawaiian material.

In addition to the object collections, the museum’s holdings also include the Photographic Archive (approximately 324,000 images from the 1860s to the present); the Media Archive (approximately 12,000 items) including film and audiovisual collections such as wax cylinders, phonograph discs, 16mm and 35mm motion picture film, magnetic media of many varieties, and optical and digital media recorded from the late 1800s through the present; and the Paper Archive (approximately 1522 linear feet) comprised of records dating from the 1860s to the present that preserve the documentary history of the NMAI, its predecessor, the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (MAI), and their collections, as well as other documentary and archival materials. Each of these four permanent collections components is defined by its individual scope and described in detail below. NMAI also maintains unaccessioned collections, including educational teaching collections and non-Native works of art depicting American Indian subjects, as well as poorly documented materials currently being researched for their value to the overall collection or potential disposition.

Although maintained as four discrete components, the Object, Photo Archive, Media Archive, and Paper Archive collections are deeply intertwined since each contains items that relate to one another: Photo and Media Archives include images of objects in use in Native communities or excavation contexts and the Paper Archive includes fieldnotes and documentation for all aspects of the combined collections. Through implementation of its Collecting Plan, NMAI hopes to expand the scope of the collections and continue its historically significant work in documenting indigenous lives and perspectives—through objects, diverse media, and other means—while simultaneously increasing the integration of the collections with one another and making them more applicable to museum programs and accessible to external users.

07/18/2019 10:00 AM
Thu, July 18
10:00AM
$
Free

Info

1 Bowling Green
New York, NY 10004
(212) 514-3700
Website

Editorial Rating

Admission And Tickets

Free

This Week's Hours

Daily: 10:00am-5:00pm
Thu: open until 8:00pm

Nearby Subway

  • to Bowling Green
  • To Rector Street
  • to Whitehall
  • to Wall Street
  • to Broad Street
  • to Wall Street

Upcoming Events

Native American Arts and Artifacts

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world—approximately 266,000 catalog records (825,000 items) representing over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americ... [ + ]as. Ranging from ancient Paleo-Indian points to contemporary fine arts, the collections include works of aesthetic, religious, and historical significance as well as articles produced for everyday use. Current holdings include all major culture areas of the Western Hemisphere, representing virtually all tribes in the United States, most of those of Canada, and a significant number of cultures from Middle and South America and the Caribbean. Approximately 68 percent of the object collections originate in the United States, with 3.5 percent from Canada, 10 percent from Mexico and Central America; 11 percent from South America; and 6 percent from the Caribbean. Overall, 55 percent of the collection is archaeological, 43 percent ethnographic, and 2 percent modern and contemporary arts. (These figures are based on catalog numbers, not number of items, where single catalog numbers encompassing dozens of sherds or projectile points would skew percentages toward archaeology.) In terms of collections’ growth, NMAI continues to focus actively on modern and contemporary arts, relying on donations for the expansion of earlier ethnographic collections. Given the 1970 passage of UNESCO regulations controlling antiquities exports from Latin America, and North American Indian peoples’ continuing ambivalence about archaeology, there is little expectation for substantial growth of the archaeological collections. And although NMAI’s enabling legislation encompasses Hawai’i, the museum does not accept or collect Native Hawaiian material.

In addition to the object collections, the museum’s holdings also include the Photographic Archive (approximately 324,000 images from the 1860s to the present); the Media Archive (approximately 12,000 items) including film and audiovisual collections such as wax cylinders, phonograph discs, 16mm and 35mm motion picture film, magnetic media of many varieties, and optical and digital media recorded from the late 1800s through the present; and the Paper Archive (approximately 1522 linear feet) comprised of records dating from the 1860s to the present that preserve the documentary history of the NMAI, its predecessor, the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (MAI), and their collections, as well as other documentary and archival materials. Each of these four permanent collections components is defined by its individual scope and described in detail below. NMAI also maintains unaccessioned collections, including educational teaching collections and non-Native works of art depicting American Indian subjects, as well as poorly documented materials currently being researched for their value to the overall collection or potential disposition.

Although maintained as four discrete components, the Object, Photo Archive, Media Archive, and Paper Archive collections are deeply intertwined since each contains items that relate to one another: Photo and Media Archives include images of objects in use in Native communities or excavation contexts and the Paper Archive includes fieldnotes and documentation for all aspects of the combined collections. Through implementation of its Collecting Plan, NMAI hopes to expand the scope of the collections and continue its historically significant work in documenting indigenous lives and perspectives—through objects, diverse media, and other means—while simultaneously increasing the integration of the collections with one another and making them more applicable to museum programs and accessible to external users.

07/18/2019 10:00 AM
Thu, July 18
10:00AM
$
Free

Native American Arts and Artifacts

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world—approximately 266,000 catalog records (825,000 items) representing over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americ... [ + ]as. Ranging from ancient Paleo-Indian points to contemporary fine arts, the collections include works of aesthetic, religious, and historical significance as well as articles produced for everyday use. Current holdings include all major culture areas of the Western Hemisphere, representing virtually all tribes in the United States, most of those of Canada, and a significant number of cultures from Middle and South America and the Caribbean. Approximately 68 percent of the object collections originate in the United States, with 3.5 percent from Canada, 10 percent from Mexico and Central America; 11 percent from South America; and 6 percent from the Caribbean. Overall, 55 percent of the collection is archaeological, 43 percent ethnographic, and 2 percent modern and contemporary arts. (These figures are based on catalog numbers, not number of items, where single catalog numbers encompassing dozens of sherds or projectile points would skew percentages toward archaeology.) In terms of collections’ growth, NMAI continues to focus actively on modern and contemporary arts, relying on donations for the expansion of earlier ethnographic collections. Given the 1970 passage of UNESCO regulations controlling antiquities exports from Latin America, and North American Indian peoples’ continuing ambivalence about archaeology, there is little expectation for substantial growth of the archaeological collections. And although NMAI’s enabling legislation encompasses Hawai’i, the museum does not accept or collect Native Hawaiian material.

In addition to the object collections, the museum’s holdings also include the Photographic Archive (approximately 324,000 images from the 1860s to the present); the Media Archive (approximately 12,000 items) including film and audiovisual collections such as wax cylinders, phonograph discs, 16mm and 35mm motion picture film, magnetic media of many varieties, and optical and digital media recorded from the late 1800s through the present; and the Paper Archive (approximately 1522 linear feet) comprised of records dating from the 1860s to the present that preserve the documentary history of the NMAI, its predecessor, the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (MAI), and their collections, as well as other documentary and archival materials. Each of these four permanent collections components is defined by its individual scope and described in detail below. NMAI also maintains unaccessioned collections, including educational teaching collections and non-Native works of art depicting American Indian subjects, as well as poorly documented materials currently being researched for their value to the overall collection or potential disposition.

Although maintained as four discrete components, the Object, Photo Archive, Media Archive, and Paper Archive collections are deeply intertwined since each contains items that relate to one another: Photo and Media Archives include images of objects in use in Native communities or excavation contexts and the Paper Archive includes fieldnotes and documentation for all aspects of the combined collections. Through implementation of its Collecting Plan, NMAI hopes to expand the scope of the collections and continue its historically significant work in documenting indigenous lives and perspectives—through objects, diverse media, and other means—while simultaneously increasing the integration of the collections with one another and making them more applicable to museum programs and accessible to external users.

07/19/2019 10:00 AM
Fri, July 19
10:00AM
$
Free

Native American Arts and Artifacts

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world—approximately 266,000 catalog records (825,000 items) representing over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americ... [ + ]as. Ranging from ancient Paleo-Indian points to contemporary fine arts, the collections include works of aesthetic, religious, and historical significance as well as articles produced for everyday use. Current holdings include all major culture areas of the Western Hemisphere, representing virtually all tribes in the United States, most of those of Canada, and a significant number of cultures from Middle and South America and the Caribbean. Approximately 68 percent of the object collections originate in the United States, with 3.5 percent from Canada, 10 percent from Mexico and Central America; 11 percent from South America; and 6 percent from the Caribbean. Overall, 55 percent of the collection is archaeological, 43 percent ethnographic, and 2 percent modern and contemporary arts. (These figures are based on catalog numbers, not number of items, where single catalog numbers encompassing dozens of sherds or projectile points would skew percentages toward archaeology.) In terms of collections’ growth, NMAI continues to focus actively on modern and contemporary arts, relying on donations for the expansion of earlier ethnographic collections. Given the 1970 passage of UNESCO regulations controlling antiquities exports from Latin America, and North American Indian peoples’ continuing ambivalence about archaeology, there is little expectation for substantial growth of the archaeological collections. And although NMAI’s enabling legislation encompasses Hawai’i, the museum does not accept or collect Native Hawaiian material.

In addition to the object collections, the museum’s holdings also include the Photographic Archive (approximately 324,000 images from the 1860s to the present); the Media Archive (approximately 12,000 items) including film and audiovisual collections such as wax cylinders, phonograph discs, 16mm and 35mm motion picture film, magnetic media of many varieties, and optical and digital media recorded from the late 1800s through the present; and the Paper Archive (approximately 1522 linear feet) comprised of records dating from the 1860s to the present that preserve the documentary history of the NMAI, its predecessor, the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (MAI), and their collections, as well as other documentary and archival materials. Each of these four permanent collections components is defined by its individual scope and described in detail below. NMAI also maintains unaccessioned collections, including educational teaching collections and non-Native works of art depicting American Indian subjects, as well as poorly documented materials currently being researched for their value to the overall collection or potential disposition.

Although maintained as four discrete components, the Object, Photo Archive, Media Archive, and Paper Archive collections are deeply intertwined since each contains items that relate to one another: Photo and Media Archives include images of objects in use in Native communities or excavation contexts and the Paper Archive includes fieldnotes and documentation for all aspects of the combined collections. Through implementation of its Collecting Plan, NMAI hopes to expand the scope of the collections and continue its historically significant work in documenting indigenous lives and perspectives—through objects, diverse media, and other means—while simultaneously increasing the integration of the collections with one another and making them more applicable to museum programs and accessible to external users.

07/20/2019 10:00 AM
Sat, July 20
10:00AM
$
Free

Native American Arts and Artifacts

The National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world—approximately 266,000 catalog records (825,000 items) representing over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americ... [ + ]as. Ranging from ancient Paleo-Indian points to contemporary fine arts, the collections include works of aesthetic, religious, and historical significance as well as articles produced for everyday use. Current holdings include all major culture areas of the Western Hemisphere, representing virtually all tribes in the United States, most of those of Canada, and a significant number of cultures from Middle and South America and the Caribbean. Approximately 68 percent of the object collections originate in the United States, with 3.5 percent from Canada, 10 percent from Mexico and Central America; 11 percent from South America; and 6 percent from the Caribbean. Overall, 55 percent of the collection is archaeological, 43 percent ethnographic, and 2 percent modern and contemporary arts. (These figures are based on catalog numbers, not number of items, where single catalog numbers encompassing dozens of sherds or projectile points would skew percentages toward archaeology.) In terms of collections’ growth, NMAI continues to focus actively on modern and contemporary arts, relying on donations for the expansion of earlier ethnographic collections. Given the 1970 passage of UNESCO regulations controlling antiquities exports from Latin America, and North American Indian peoples’ continuing ambivalence about archaeology, there is little expectation for substantial growth of the archaeological collections. And although NMAI’s enabling legislation encompasses Hawai’i, the museum does not accept or collect Native Hawaiian material.

In addition to the object collections, the museum’s holdings also include the Photographic Archive (approximately 324,000 images from the 1860s to the present); the Media Archive (approximately 12,000 items) including film and audiovisual collections such as wax cylinders, phonograph discs, 16mm and 35mm motion picture film, magnetic media of many varieties, and optical and digital media recorded from the late 1800s through the present; and the Paper Archive (approximately 1522 linear feet) comprised of records dating from the 1860s to the present that preserve the documentary history of the NMAI, its predecessor, the Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation (MAI), and their collections, as well as other documentary and archival materials. Each of these four permanent collections components is defined by its individual scope and described in detail below. NMAI also maintains unaccessioned collections, including educational teaching collections and non-Native works of art depicting American Indian subjects, as well as poorly documented materials currently being researched for their value to the overall collection or potential disposition.

Although maintained as four discrete components, the Object, Photo Archive, Media Archive, and Paper Archive collections are deeply intertwined since each contains items that relate to one another: Photo and Media Archives include images of objects in use in Native communities or excavation contexts and the Paper Archive includes fieldnotes and documentation for all aspects of the combined collections. Through implementation of its Collecting Plan, NMAI hopes to expand the scope of the collections and continue its historically significant work in documenting indigenous lives and perspectives—through objects, diverse media, and other means—while simultaneously increasing the integration of the collections with one another and making them more applicable to museum programs and accessible to external users.

07/21/2019 10:00 AM
Sun, July 21
10:00AM
$
Free
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