Washington, D.C. Sights

National Museum of the American Indian

  • 4th St. and Independence Ave. SW Map It
  • The Mall

Fodor's Review

Visually and conceptually, the National Museum of the American Indian stands apart from the other cultural institutions on the Mall. The exterior, clad in pinkish-gold limestone from Minnesota, evokes natural rock formations. Inside, four floors of galleries cover 10,000 years of history of the thousands of native tribes of the Western Hemisphere. However, only 5% of the museum's holdings are on display at any one time. Touring with one of the Native American guides helps bring the history and legends to life.

Highlights

Live music, dance, theater, and storytelling are central to experiencing this museum. Tribal groups stage performances in the two theaters and sunlit ceremonial atrium.

The Great Inka Road: Engineering an Empire explores this 20,000-mile road that crosses rivers, deserts, and mountains, and linked Cusco, the center of the Inkas, to the farthest reaches of its empire.

The Our Universe exhibit tells the unique

creation legends of eight different tribes, with carvings, costumes, and videos of tribal storytellers.

Nation to Nation: Treaties Between the United States and American Indian Nations shares the history and legacy of U.S.–American Indian diplomacy from the colonial period to the present. This exhibit showcases the influence of Native diplomats and leaders of Indian nations.

Tips

Visit between 10 and 2 on a sunny day to see the central atrium awash in rainbows created by the light refracted through prisms in the ceiling aligned with Earth's cardinal points.

The museum's Mitsitam Native Foods Café offers a modern perspective on foods that have been grown, raised, and harvested in North and South America for thousands of years.

Free tours are offered daily, and the museum's 6,000-square-foot family-friendly imagiNATIONS Activity Center includes hands-on activities throughout the year.

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Sight Information

Address:

4th St. and Independence Ave. SW, Washington, District of Columbia, 20560, USA

Map It

Phone:

202-633–1000

Sight Details:

  • Free
  • Daily 10–5:30

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