This is the newest of the Smithsonian museums, opened in 2004. It celebrates the life, languages, culture and histories of the Native American peoples of the Western Hemisphere.
Given that very wide focus I have to say that though the museum was very nice, it was difficult to follow in places because the focus was so very wide.
Hours- 10-5:30 daily, except December 25.
There is no parking at the museum
We had planned to see the outdoor attractions early to avoid the heat, then proceed to meet our friend Andrew. But seeing as we would be dinning inside the museum’s café, there was no excuse not to tour it. The National Museum of the American Indian is one of the many Smithsonian Museums; this one is dedicated to the American Indian as the name suggests. Added to the mall in 2004, it has a striking architecture with a water fall and river reflecting the different Native American landscapes. The Cliff-dwelling style architecture catches your attention as you approach it, the outside garden and huts are striking attraction in themselves.
The museum houses the most diverse and largest collection of Native American historical, cultural and art objects. Most of the exhibitions are done in collaboration with the natives. In fact they were asked to come in to help with the museum, giving first-hand information about what their culture is.
There was an entire exhibition of firearms, including modern automatic weapons, and Spanish swords and knives. This I thought represented the sad and extraordinarily dark history of wars between the Native Americans and nonnatives. The gun of Geronomo was on display together with two other prominent guns in the history of the rebellion against foreign invaders.
We loved the children’s section because it was interactive; our daughter was excited like she had found a candy store. Children get a passport book with information on the history and culture of the natives. They get a stamp at each of the stops, giving them the encouragement and incentive to learn more. We watched in awe as the children each moved from one stop to the other. It was a surprisingly respectful way to tell the history and culture of a respectful and private people. The past seems to mirror the future in most of the exhibitions here.
Now this is just my thought; the museum could do a better job presenting what is the Native American culture. Such a rich and deep culture, but the presentation leaves one wondering what they saw on the top floor vs what is on the second and first floor. With as much room and space as they have, I expected better presentation. The top floor is too dark due to deem lighting to a point of diminishing the importance of the artifacts on exhibit.
There is a café in the museum, the Misitam café where you can eat prior to or after touring (take a look at my review of the café). I must warn that is it a very expensive place to eat. The food is great though; representing four different cuisines. A large gift shop is also available to purchase souvenirs. Stop by to support them.
The beautiful architecture together with the excellent display/ exhibitions makes this museum a must see in Washington should you visit. We had a great time, even though we did not go through all the 3 floors. We saw plenty and had I not had an 11 year old playing the interactive, maybe I would have seen a little more, but all the more reason to return before we leave the East Coast for sweet home Arizona. Great museum, most people will enjoy it, especially families with children.
The National Museum of the American Indian is one of the newest additions to the National Mall. From the outside, it is one of the most interesting buildings in terms of architecture. The building is curvilinear with almost no corners and the grounds have native plants in both decorative and crop gardens and a waterfall. The museum also has one of the most unique cafeterias - serving foods based on Native American dishes from different regions (e.g., southwest, northwest, etc.) The floor plan is very open, which felt to me like there was a lot of wasted space that could have displayed more exhibits. The four permanent exhibits include Our Universe (religion and philosophy), Our Peoples (history), Our Lives (contemporary), and Algonquian People of the Chesapeake. I thought the exhibits were interesting, but not I felt like there could have been more. Very little about Native Americans from the Pacific Northwest, which was disappointing - just one totem pole in the lobby. And many of the exhibits were too dark to really get a good look. Overall, the museum is worth a stop if you have time - it is free after all, but with limited time, I would definitely give many of the other museums priority.
Sadley we were running out of time, so we only got to see the first level and made our way up to the 4th Level ~ Our Peoples exhibit. What a wonderful display of history, information, and very educational. I will admit this exhibit hit home for myself and my sister. It is a must see for anyone interested in Native history.
HOURS: 10 AM–5:30 PM daily; closed December 25. (Exhibition spaces, cafe, and store begin closing at 5:15 PM)
Admission is free, and the building is fully accessible. Photography is not allowed in certain galleries, so ask the desk up front to be sure.
There are several floors with amazing exhibits that range from different times in the American Indian history and give you an insight to the different tribes through out North America. It can take you a whole day to see the whole museum but its well worth it.
The inside of the museum is as amazing as the outside. As you walk in you can notice the rainbows throughout the interior and this is due to the Prisms built next to the windows. The inside is made to feel like you are inside a gigantic tepee with a skylight in the very top. Walk around the outside stairs to the exhibits.
This is without a doubt one of my favorite museums when it comes to architecture. The outside of the museum is meant to take you back to nature with its water ambiance. Take a moment to walk around the outside of the museum and take in its majestic architecture.
Its one of the newer if not the newest Smithsonian Museum. I was very happy when they decided to build it. The American Indians suffered tremendously throughout history. Its a great honor to be able to learn and admire their culture.
This brand new museum has a small collection compared to other museums on the mall and unlike the Smithsonian's charges an entrance fee. I woudl skip this on as we have much better Native American museums in the US.
I LOVED the design of this building....I really didnt spend too much time here but what I did see and experience here was kind of cool....
In fact I thought the organization of the contents could have been better,having experienced the Canadian Museum of Civilisation and the Royal B.C. Museum but nevertheless what I did like about it was the design and feeling of "space and light" when I walked into the foyer of the building.
It is a part of the Smithsonian...
The National Museum of the American Indian is the newest kid on the block. Kind of ironic when the Native Americans were the first on the continent. This museum is extremely well done. The exhibits are varied and engaging. It is well worth adding this new museum to your DC plans. It is part of the Smithsonian family of museums.
Having been born and raised in Oklahoma I am keenly aware of the heritage almost lost in North America by the white man’s treatment of Native Americans so am glad to see this newest Smithsonian museum dedicated to the preservation and study of these amazing peoples. There are many different kinds of exhibits from videos to native arts and crafts as well as textiles, sculptures, beadwork, etc. There are 3 multi-media exhibitions on ‘Our Universe,’ ‘Our Peoples’ and ‘Our Lives’ which focus on the philosophy and religion, the historical and the contemporary dimensions of Native American cultures in the western hemisphere. If you have any interest in the real story of the American ‘Indians,’ don’t miss this place.
The statue in the main photo honors the friendship of the Oneidas to the colonists, particularly during the American Revolution. It shows Oskanondonha, a key leader of the Oneidas, and General Washington before a white pine tree, a symbol of peace. The Oneidas rendered crucial aid to forces at Valley Forge.
Admission is of course free. Hours are daily (except December 25) 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Timed entry passes may be required during heavy visitation or can be obtained at the entrance. Advance passes may be obtained through the web site or by calling 866 400-6624.