Housed in the historic Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, the National Museum of the American Indian opened its doors in 1994. The original building, the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House, opened in 1907. It is located on the same spot as Fort Amsterdam, the original center of the settlement of New Amsterdam. The building is a masterpiece of the Beaux-Arts style, which incorporates architecture, engineering, and fine arts. From 1799 to 1815, the Custom House was known as the Government House. Because of its unique design and age, the building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1976. As part of the Smithsonian Institution, the Native American Museum houses the largest collection of Native American artifacts. As a result, visitors experience unique contemporary and historical art and artifacts by and about Native Americans.
National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) has one of the most extensive collections of Native American arts and artifacts in the world. Its collection includes approximately 266,000 catalog records representing over 12,000 years of history and more than 1,200 indigenous cultures throughout the Americas. Ranging from ancient Paleo-Indian points to contemporary fine arts, the collections include works of aesthetic, religious, and historical significance. Current holdings include all major culture areas of the Western Hemisphere, including all tribes in the United States, and some cultures from Canada, Middle and South America, and the Caribbean.
As such, NAMI showcases a wide variety of Native American artifacts ranging from musical instruments to war weapons in both its permanent and temporary exhibitions. Historical photography buffs will enjoy NAMI’s archives. Most noteworthy are the rare photos and films that depict contemporary Native American heritage starting in the late 1800’s.
Dance performances and films are open to the public throughout the year. Events at the museum range from Native American culture to textile making art classes. As a result of its unique location and unusual exhibits, NMAI is a great place to visit when coming to New York.