National Museum of the American Indian

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

National Museum of the American Indian

National Museum of the American Indian, institution devoted to the collection, preservation, and presentation of the culture of the indigenous populations of the Western Hemisphere, a division of the Smithsonian Institution. It was established by an act of Congress in 1989 with the collections of the former Museum of the American Indian/Heye Foundation, in New York City. That museum was founded in 1916 by George G. Heye (1874–1957) and was opened to the public in 1922. The museum currently comprises the main museum on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., a contemporary building designed by Native American architect Douglas Cardinal (opened 2004); a research center in Suitland, Md.; and the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City, which incorporates a film and video center. The museum's collection, which includes more than 800,000 items of historical, aesthetic, cultural, and religious significance and spans some 10,000 years of native heritage, includes ceramics, masks, dolls, wood and stone carvings, textiles, clothing, featherwork, baskets, beadwork, jewelry, traditional works on paper and canvas, and contemporary prints and paintings. The collection also features photographic images, historical administrative records, and videos, films, and audio recordings.

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