National Museum of the American Indian‚ Smithsonian Institution
Opened in October, 1994, the George Gustav Heye Center of the National Museum of the American Indian, at the historic Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House in Lower Manhattan, serves as the National Museum of the American Indian’s exhibition and education facility in New York City.
Permanent and temporary exhibitions, as well as a range of public programs—including music and dance performances, films and symposia—explore the diversity of the Native people of the Americas and the strength and continuity of their cultures from the earliest times to the present.
Located in New York’s financial district, the Custom House is an architectural jewel. Designed by Cass Gilbert and completed in 1907, the structure originally functioned as a site for the collection of customs duties. Today it is regarded as one of the most splendid Beaux-Arts buildings in New York. Located at the foot of Broadway, it sits on what was once the southern end of the Wiechquaekeck Trail, an old Algonquin trade route.
The audio tour of the exhibition Infinity of Nations is available in English and Spanish. Visitor Services volunteers that speak other languages, including Spanish, Portuguese, Turkish, and Italian, wear pins identifying their language proficiencies for visitors. Spanish and French-speaking participants in museum programming are often offered a translator.
A general museum brochure has Spanish, French, German and Japanese sections. Latino programs like Day of the Dead often have a Spanish-language component. Large international programs like the biennial Native American Film and Video Festival have considerable Spanish-language components and the festival brochure is also made in Spanish. Many programs have some spoken component in a Native American language, such as Navajo. When a program or film is offered in a Native language or Spanish, explanation in English or English supertitles are provided.
The museum maintains an active schedule of programs for families including annual events such as the Children’s Festival, Day of the Dead celebrations and winter break programs. Details of all these free events, including storytelling programs and daily screenings of children’s films, can be found on the museum’s Web site at www.AmericanIndian.si.edu.
Cultural Interpretive Gallery Programs are led by Native interpreters who offer a deeper understanding of indigenous issues through such educational tools as storytelling, videos and handling objects. To schedule a Cultural Interpreter for your class, please call (212) 514-3705.