Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
National Museum of the American Indian
The National Museum of the American Indian, which opened on September 21, 2004, is an Institution in the United States launched by an act of the United States Congress in 1989, with the mandate to preserve, study, and exhibit on the life, languages, literature, history, and arts of Native Americans (from throughout the Americas).
Operated under the auspices of the Smithsonian Institution, NMAI has locations in New York City, Maryland, and Washington, DC. The collections of the former Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, in New York are consolidated under the Smithsonian Institution, and form the foundation of the collection. The New York collection is operated as The George Gustav Heye Center and is housed in the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House on Bowling Green.
The Washington location of the NMAI is housed in a building designed by Douglas J. Cardinal. Disagreements during the construction led to his being removed from the project, but the building retains his original design intent, and his continued input was used to achieve completion.
The Director of the NMAI since 1990 is W. Richard West Jr. , a Cheyenne and Arapaho lawyer from Oklahoma. In general, American Indians have filled the leadership roles in the design and operation of the museum and have aimed at creating a different atmosphere and experience from museums of European and Euro-American culture. Donna House , the Navajo and Oneida botanist who supervised the landscaping, has said, "The landscape flows into the building, and the environment is who we are. We are the trees, we are the rocks, we are the water. And that had to be part of the museum."
- Francis Hayden, "By the People", Smithsonian, September 2004, pp. 50–57.
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