SEPTEMBER 21, 2004

SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION’S NATIONAL MUSEUM OF THE AMERICAN INDIAN (NMAI) OPENS

On November 18, 1989, President George H. W. Bush signed legislation creating NMAI as part of the Smithsonian. The groundbreaking ceremony for the NAMI on the National Mall was held September 28, 1999. The first national museum in the U.S. dedicated solely to Native Americans, the 5-story, curvilinear building is clad in Kasota limestone evoking natural rock formations shaped by wind & water. The building’s form grew out of the early work of Canadian Blackfoot architect Douglas Cardinal and further developed by the architecture firms of Jones & Jones, SmithGroup in collaboration with Lou Weller (Caddo), the Native American Design Collaborative, and Polshek Partnership Architects. The building is aligned perfectly to the cardinal directions and the center point of the US Capitol Building dome. The NMAI actually operates 3 facilities: The museum on the National Mall, the George Gustav Heye Center in New York City, and the Cultural Resources Center (CRC) in Suitland, Maryland.  

Source:  “National Museum of the American Indian,” Smithsonian Institution Archives. Retrieved 3/15/2022, National Museum of the American Indian | Smithsonian Institution Archives (si.edu)
Photo:  Carol M. Highsmith (1946-   ), undated. Public Domain.  Source: Carol M. Highsmith Archive collection, United States Library of Congress's Prints and Photographs division under the digital ID highsm. 12698.

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