American Indian Museum

The American Indian Museum, more formally known as the National Museum of the American Indian, puts the focus on the life and history of the Native Americans of the Western Hemisphere. Part of the Smithsonian Institution, the museum’s three facilities include the main branch in Washington DC, a separate branch in New York City known as the George Gustav Heye Center, and a research and collections facility that can be found in Suitland, Maryland. In this article, we put the spotlight on the Washington DC facility, which is situated on the National Mall and impresses with its striking design.

The American Indian Museum in Washington DC took five years and more than $200 million to build. Strikingly attractive both inside and out, the five-story structure measures 250,000 square feet and is clad in Kasota limestone that aims to evoke the feel of natural rock formations formed over the course of thousands of years. Inside, themes of nature and astronomy combine to further represent the spirit of Native Americans and their attachment to the earth and skies. In relation to the American Indian Museum exhibitions, they were designed in collaboration with Indian tribes and communities from across the hemisphere and contain articles and artifacts that span centuries. Videos and interactive technology support the artifacts and provide added depth to the museum. Other facilities include a gift shop and an excellent restaurant.

The address for the National Museum of the American Indian is Fourth Street & Independence Ave., SW. This puts it within especially close proximity of Capitol Hill, where you will find such standout attractions as the Capitol Building and the United States Botanic Garden. The American Indian Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily and only closes on Christmas Day. Admission is free, and the building is equipped with accessible features to accommodate people with disabilities. Many visitors to the museum get there by way of the Metro, arriving at either the L’Enfant Plaza station or the Federal Center station. Both of these stations are to the near south of the museum.

As a side note, the National Museum of the American Indian offers special tours that are known as Highlights Tours. These tours are offered more regularly during the warmer months, but you can also arrange to enjoy them in the winter. During the tours, guests are given a general overview of the museum’s history, its landscape, the building, the galleries, and various other points of interest. Whether they are planning on taking a tour or not, groups of 10 or more people are strongly encouraged to reserve entry to the American Indian Museum before they arrive.

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