The National Museum of the American Indian

Washington, D.C., United States

The National Museum of the American Indian is part of the Smithsonian Institution and is dedicated to the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere.

Following controversy over the discovery by Native American leaders that the Smithsonian Institution held more than 12,000–18,000 Indian remains, mostly in storage, United States Senator Daniel Inouye introduced in 1989 the National Museum of the American Indian act. On September 21, 2004, for the inauguration of the Museum, Senator Inouye addressed an audience of around 20,000 American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians, which was the largest gathering in Washington D.C. of indigenous people to its time.

The museum collection includes more than 800,000 objects, as well as a photographic archive of 125,000 images. It is divided into the areas of Amazon, Andes, Arctic/Subarctic, California/Great Basin, Mesoamerican/Caribbean, Northwest Coast, Patagonia, Plains/Plateau and Woodlands.

The collection, which became part of the Smithsonian in June 1990, was assembled by George Gustav Heye (1874–1957) during a 54-year period, beginning in 1903. He traveled throughout North and South America collecting Native objects.



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Founded: 2004
Category: Museums in United States


4.5/5 (based on Google user reviews)

User Reviews

Dsansivar Soy (2 years ago)
Finally had a chance to visit this museum. We visited level 4 and level 3, as they recommend you start with level 4. Two hours or so, then headed out. We will come back later on for the rest. It was a great experience. My kids loved it. I loved the Native Barbie.
Hanane Ouazzani (2 years ago)
Had the great fortune of being present and participating as an observing student, at the opening ceremony of the National Museum Of The American Indian, on the Fall Equinox of September 21st, 2024. It was the most life altering experience on all levels, spiritual, emotional, mental and physical. I was never the same person after witnessing the great Cheyenne Chief's call to the spirits of the ancestors in all four directions. Or Mr. Rick West's memorable speech. This experience alone was responsible for putting me on the path of spiritual progression and self discovery. When you are there, be quiet, be respectful, and listen with your heart. Feel your way through the experience, you will leave that most sacred site differently than you came guaranteed.
Melissa (2 years ago)
Beautiful displays with many videos/recordings providing first hand information. Excellent displays on the Native American vs.government points of view. Info on the treaties made and the violations of them were eye opening and saddening. Yet so many served in the military to defend freedom when much of theirs was stolen.
Ilyse Wagner (2 years ago)
Must see! The exhibits on each floor are packed with information. You could easily spend an entire day here. I especially liked the Our Universes exhibit (coolest ceiling ever) and the Why We Serve exhibit. The scope of the information and peoples covered in this museum is worth taking a trip for. The gift shop sells art by artists from different regions, so you get to support them and bring something unique home. This was one of my top stops on my trip. Highly recommend.
Lorna O. Davison (3 years ago)
I love attending museums. Especially well designed museums with large elevators. I am not happy with the security who check your bags and escort you in at this museum. In most of the Smithsonian the guards are gentle humans who love their jobs.This is not the case at the American Indian Museum.The female guards belong in another position that does not deal with humans. They are rude and uncaring. I get anxiety just entering the door. I have a stroller generally and attend at least once a month. I hope the contract for these services changes as these folks do not represent a museum culture in any way. Update. I attended in February. The guards were helpful and caring. Thank you Smithsonian for caring about my experience and mitigating the situation. Bravo.
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