National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI)

The National Museum of the American Indian preserves our Indigenous heritage from North and Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.

Taíno culture at the Museum of the American Indian

FINANCIAL DISTRICT; daily, Jul 28, 2018 – Oct 2019; Indigenous Taíno art exhibition ~ Caribbean communities are reclaiming our roots. FREE

Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed

April 18, 2015 – May 20, 2018
~
National Museum of the American Indian
Financial District, Manhattan
~
Central American heritage

Infinity of Nations: Art and History in the Collections of the National Museum of the American Indian

This permanent exhibition shows the breadth of the Museum’s collection. Highlights include:

  • A detailed Mayan limestone bas relief depicting a ball player from Mexico.
  • A Mapuche kultrung, or hand drum, depicting the cosmos from Chile.
  • An anthropomorphic Shipibo joni chomo, or water vessel from Peru.
  • A gourd carved with a detailed picture of the Battle of Arica (Chile vs Peru) by Mariano Flores Kananga (Quechua).
  • An early Anishinaabe man’s outfit complete with headdress, leggings, shirt, sash, and jewelry from French Canada.

The exhibition also includes contemporary work by Indigenous artists.


 

The National Museum of the American Indian is now housed in the Alexander Hamilton US Custom House (1902-1907). It is a Beaux-Arts masterpiece on Bowling Green at the end of Broadway at the tip of Manhattan.

Before the Internal Revenue Service started collecting income tax in 1862 to fund the Civil War, our government was funded by import taxes. The Customs House was the tax collector for the port of New York, so they had a very nice building.

The National Museum of the American Indian is in an appropriate location at the beginning of Broadway. After all, Broadway was the beginning of the old Indian trail that followed the Hudson River all the way to Albany. That’s why it is the only street to cut diagonally across Manhattan.

The southern tip of Manhattan was also the location of the first Dutch settlement in New York City which was founded in 1624. The Dutch West India Company established the outpost to trade in furs. The Native Americans in Manhattan were the Lenape people.


The full name of the museum is the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian George Gustav Heye Center.

George Gustav Heye (1874-1957) was an electrical engineer from Columbia University who became an investment banker.

Heye started collecting Native American artifacts in 1897 and collected across the Americas for 45 years. His collection includes over a million artifacts.

At first Heye kept his collection in his Madison Avenue apartment. In 1916, George founded the Museum of the American Indian uptown at Audubon Terrace. The Museum moved to the Customs House in 1994.


 

Admission is free.

National Museum of the American Indian

Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House
1 Bowling Green, New York, NY 10004

Hours

Daily 10 am – 5 pm (8 pm Thursdays)
Closed December 25.

Subway

  • (1) to South Ferry
  • (4) (5) to Bowling Green

Bus

M5, M15, M20